Skywatchers are giddy with anticipation as August 21 gets closer and closer. Supermoons, strawberry moons and meteor showers are nothing compared to the total solar eclipse that will cut through the entire lower 48 in about two months.
From Charleston, South Carolina to Salem, Oregon, many folks will have a chance to witness totality. A brief moment where the moon completely blocks out the sun.
Totality will fall in a narrow strip between South Carolina and Oregon. A handful of cities sit in this path including Charleston, Nashville, Kansas City and St. Louis.
Folks living in Portland, Atlanta, Boise and Omaha are just a short drive away from a perfect solar eclipse viewing spot.
The University of California, Berkeley and Google teamed up to create a handy tool to show you what the eclipse will look like from any spot. The closer you are to the narrow strip of totality, the more the moon will block the sun. And if you’re in just the right spot, you’ll see the sky darken significantly as the moon blocks much of the sun’s light.
Here’s a look at a total solar eclipse from the Faroe Islands in 2015.
My favorite view of a total solar eclipse has to be the video from Alaska Airlines Flight #870 during the March 9, 2016 eclipse. Astronomers and eclipse chasers piled onto the flight to watch totality from 35,000 feet. The footage is stunning.
The images and video from the upcoming total solar eclipse will amaze. Look for photographers to combine nature with the eclipse. Parts of national forests including Nantahala, Chattahoochee, Shawnee and Grand Teton sit within the totality zone. Plan a day hike at one of these national forests and get ready for a bucket-list worthy moment.
Make sure you snag a pair of solar eclipse glasses. Here are several options from B&H Photo. If you’re using binoculars or a telescope, you’ll need special solar filters to observe the eclipse safely. And solar filters for cameras.
Never look directly at the sun unless the moon is completely covering it. This is important. Retinal burn is a real danger if you’re only viewing a partial eclipse. No matter how much the moon is covering the sun. Only during the brief moment of totality is it safe to view without eye protection.
If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the Moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.
Now, we just need the weather to cooperate. Check out the Google Simulator to get a good idea of how the solar eclipse will look for you and what time during August 21 you need to head outside. You can also play with the map to find the perfect spot to view this year’s total solar eclipse.
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