In two years time, the first total solar eclipse in more than three decades is expected to plunge America into darkness. The eclipse was even given a moniker in a very American fashion: “The Great American eclipse.”
North Americans were last able to see a total solar eclipse in 1979.
During such eclipses, the skies begin to darken although the day was bright and shiny just a few moments ago. If there are no clouds on the horizons you can also see the stars.
Birds and animals are strangely silent, some dogs may start to howl, while the sun no longer shines. Instead it looks like a black disk surrounded by a circle of light that sometimes resembles a diamond ring. That’s the peak of the eclipse.
The eclipse lasts only a few moments, but the sensations are intense especially if the sky isn’t cloudy or it isn’t raining already.
Although eclipse chasers travel across the world to the best spots where they can observe the rare phenomenon, in 2017, Americans would be able to witness the solar eclipse from the comfort of their own backyards.
Astronomers estimate that there are about 70 total solar eclipses worldwide during a century, which means that we can witness one such event every 17 months. During total solar eclipses, the moon perfectly aligns with the sun and earth and blocks for a few moments sun rays from reaching our planet.
Additionally, the moon also shrouds large swaths of land in its shadow called the umbra. Yet, the umbra is not that wide, so only people located on relatively narrow region can witness the eclipse in its full glory.
People that are outside the umbra can only witness a partial solar eclipse. This means that the solar disk is not covered entirely by the moon, when the event happens.
Astronomers calculated that a person can see a total eclipse from the exact same point every 375 years.
So, make sure to catch the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017. The eclipse is the first of its kind in the century and it would be visible from 48 states. You won’t be able to see it from Alaska and Hawaii, which had their share of total eclipses in 1990, and 1991 respectively.
Plus, for the first time ever, the track of the moon’s umbra will cover only the U.S. So, no other country of the world would be able to witness it outside U.S. territory. That’s why they named it The Great American Eclipse.
Image Source: Wikipedia