Ready for the solar eclipse on Monday? Here are the five things you need to know.
The solar eclipse is happening this Monday, August 21st. It will be viewable across the US along the path of totality (places from which the sun’s face is seen as being completely obscured.) If you are not directly in the path of totality, it can still be an incredible thing to watch. New England and states bordering Mexico will experience about a 65% totality with more than half the sun’s face obscured; the rest of the fifty states will have an 80%+ totality, with over three quarters of the sun blocked out
The solar eclipse will be viewable from Oregon to South Carolina. Pick your spot, make sure you can move if a passing cloud blocks your view, and be aware that there may be crowds. These five spots are prime for viewing;
- Madras Oregon, will experience 2 minutes and 4 seconds of totality starting at 10:19 AM. This tiny town in central Oregon is cited as the top far-west spot for totality, and the city has set up a campground along the centerline dubbed “solartown” with three days of live music featuring local acts and tribute bands to Aerosmith, Heart, and Tom Petty.
- Nashville, Tennessee will experience 1 minute and 57 seconds of totality starting at 1:27 PM. Music City is ready to go; the Adventure Science Center will host a music and technology festival from the 19th to the 21st, and the Nashville Sounds will have a special eclipse party during their game.
- Hopkinsville, Kentucky will experience 2 minutes and 41 seconds of totality starting at 1:24 PM, is expecting big crowds for the Bluegrass Bash at Burdoc Farms, and Eclipse Con is hosting a star-studded crowd from the worlds of comics, anime, and sci-fi at the Bruce Convention Center.
- Columbia, South Carolina, will experience 2 minutes and 35 second of totality starting at 2:43PM. Columbia is the largest city in the line of totality, and has plans for space-themed performances from the SC Philharmonic and a Columbia Fireflies baseball game. The Columbia Motor Speedway will be holding a total eclipse viewing party.
- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be where outdoor enthusiasts cluster for this incredible event; the park will experience 1 minutes and 17 seconds of totality starting at 2:35 PM, and the parking lot at the Clingman’s Dome trailhead will be closed off to host scientists, storytellers, and park rangers explaining the cultural and natural significance of the event. Events are also planned for Cades Cove and Oconaluftee.
To watch the eclipse safely, follow the guidelines set out by NASA:
“The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” (example shown at left) or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight.”
Don’t have a safe source for safe sun filters, you can make a pinhole projector; google “astrosociety eclipse” to find instructions for making a safe one and use it correctly:
“Pinhole projectors and other projection techniques are a safe, indirect viewing technique for observing an image of the sun. These provide a popular way for viewing solar eclipses. One viewing technique is to project an image of the sun onto a white surface with a projecting telescope.”
The main thing to remember when watching the eclipse is to keep yourself, your children, and even your pets safe. Enjoy this event – it won’t come along again until July 2, 2019, and that total eclipse will be better viewed from South America than from the North.