On August 21st, 2017 a estamated 500 million people will be able to witness a total solar eclipse.
The path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from West to East. The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT. Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT. From there the lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 EDT. Its longest duration will be near Carbondale, Illinois, where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and 40 seconds.
Although you may not be in the path of totality, the eclipse may be visible from your Vantage Point.
Eclipse Fast Facts
“The hair on the back of your neck is going to stand up and you are going to feel
different things as the eclipse reaches totality. It’s been described as peaceful, spiritual,
exhilarating, shocking. If you’re feeling these things, don’t worry, you’re experiencing the
total eclipse of the sun!” – Brian Carlstrom, Deputy Associate Director of the National
Park Service Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate
• On Aug. 21, 2017, all of North America will view – weather permitting — a partial eclipse,
when the moon obscures part of the sun.
• A total eclipse will be viewable throughout a 70-mile-wide path that crosses 14 of the
United States from Oregon to South Carolina.
• The umbra (or dark inner shadow) of the moon will be traveling from west to east from
almost 3,000 miles per hour (in western Oregon) to 1,500 miles per hour in South
• The last total eclipse in the United States occurred on Feb. 26, 1979. The last total
eclipse that crossed the entire continent occurred on June 8, 1918.
• The last time a total solar eclipse occurred exclusively in the U.S. was in 1778.
• Experiencing a total solar eclipse where you live happens on average about once in
• 12.2 million Americans live in the path of the total eclipse. Of course, with visitors, that
number will be much higher on Aug. 21!
• About 200 million people (a little less than 2⁄3 the nation’s population) live within one
day’s drive of the path of this total eclipse. In addition, millions of Americans will be able
to view a partial eclipse, weather permitting.
• The lunar shadow enters the West Coast at 9:05 a.m. PDT, and Lincoln City, Oregon
will be the first place in the continental U.S. to see the total solar eclipse, beginning at
10:15 a.m. PDT.
• Carbondale, Illinois will experience the longest eclipse duration, clocking in at two
minutes, 43 seconds, beginning at 1:20 p.m. CDT.
• Hopkinsville, Kentucky will view the greatest eclipse – that is, where the sun, the moon
and Earth line up the most precisely. The eclipse begins there at 1:24 p.m. CDT.
• Charleston, South Carolina will be the last place in the continental U.S. to see the total
solar eclipse, ending at 2:48 p.m. EDT.
• The lunar shadow will exit the East Coast of the U.S. at 4:09 p.m. EDT.
• 11 spacecraft, over 50 NASA-funded high-altitude balloons, numerous ground-based
observations and citizen scientists will capture a wealth of images and data that will be
made available to the public before, during, and after the eclipse.
• Total solar eclipses offer unprecedented opportunities to study Earth under uncommon
conditions. The sudden blocking of the sun during an eclipse reduces the sunlight
energy that reaches the Earth. Scientists stationed in Columbia, Missouri and Casper,
Wyoming will measure the radiant energy in the atmosphere from the ground and in
space. Their goal is to improve our understanding of how the sun’s radiant energy within the Earth’s atmosphere changes when clouds, particles, or the moon block sunlight
from reaching the Earth’s surface.
• Scientists have made extensive atmospheric radiant energy measurements during
eclipses before, but this is the first opportunity to have coordinated data from both the
ground and from a spacecraft located 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth
that can see the entire sunlit Earth during an eclipse.
• These quick-changing conditions can affect local weather and even animal behavior.
For example, orb-weaving spiders were observed dismantling their webs during a 1991
eclipse in Mexico.
Along with the eclipse there is Eclipse parties popping up everywhere. If you do plan on viewing the eclipse are having a party please remember to view it with Extreme Caution.
The only safe way to look directly at an uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through specialpurpose
solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or
ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are NOT safe for looking at the sun. It is safe to
look at a total eclipse with your naked eyes, ONLY during the brief period of totality, which will
last just a minute or two during the Aug. 21 eclipse.
It is NOT safe to look at the sun through the viewfinder of a camera or an unfiltered telescope.
You may, however, safely look at the screen of your smart phone or digital camera focused on
the eclipse, though you are unlikely to get a good view.
An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection. In this
method, you don’t look directly at the sun, but at a projection on a piece of paper or even the
ground. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the
outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. Do not look at your hands, but at the shadow of
your hands on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small
images, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. See the
appendix for ways of making projectors out of readily available materials such as a cereal box.
If you are having a Eclipse party or want to shear your thoughts, please let us know in the comments below.