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A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Eclipse 2017

August 18, 2017

Are you ready for the biggest coast-to-coast power outage in 99 years?

If your answer is "Uh, no", then welcome to the guide with everything you need to know!

What?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the disk of the moon appears to completely cover the disk of the sun in the sky. That's fascinating--and it's a great science lesson to all of us. NASA provides a great, comprehensive look into how the Sun, Moon, and Earth are affected by a total solar eclipse like the one we are about to experience here.

It's not just awesome astronomy either, it's a historical event. Let's talk about why you should be interested in this particular solar eclipse.

  • Picture the total darkness that will fall over your surroundings as the sun is completely covered. If you're in the path of totality, that's the only time you can see the Sun's corona, or its atmosphere.
  • You'll be able to see the stars in daytime--and if you're discerning enough, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter!
  • This is the first total solar eclipse visible from the American West Coast to the American East Coast in 99 years. Remember 1918? Yeah, neither can we. That's pre-television, pre-antibiotics, and pre-bread-slicing-machine!
  • Click here for timeanddate.com's reasons why you should be stoked for this eclipse

Are you scrambling to your car, ready to take off and camp out wherever the Great American Total Solar Eclipse will be? Let's talk about...

When and Where?

The date to mark is Aug. 21, 2017. The eclipse's path of totality is about 70 miles wide and stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. It will pass through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and end near Charleston, South Carolina.

From there the lunar shadow begins its exit.  Its longest duration will be near Carbondale, Illinois, where the sun will be completely covered for a little under 3 minutes.

Check out this interactive map from NASA to plan out your trip, and this link from space.com for an eclipse timetable.

How?

It's imperative that you wear protective solar eclipse glasses to watch the phenomenon. You can obtain these glasses from NASA events, where they're giving them out for free, to Warby Parker and 7-Eleven (for more options from the Washington Post, click here).

Be wary of counterfeit glasses, in light of the huge recall Amazon issued, reported by KGW8 News. Make sure you know how to test if your glasses are truly ISO-certified.

Lastly...

This is an incredible event, a twist of cosmic geometry that can bring people to tears, cause existential crises, and inspire a new wave of interest in the universe. Make the most of it!

  • Attend one of the many parties and events located in the eclipse's path of totality
  • Download a solar eclipse app
  • Marvel at the fact that the last time this sort of thing happened, the President of the United States was Woodrow Wilson, and the U.S. just entered WWI
  • Thanks to astronomers, we can be prepared for a nature-induced power outage. Bring along the PackLite Max USB to light your journey! 

Photo Credits: Spencer Millsap 



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