The 2017 Great American Eclipse, first in 99 years

On August 21, 2017, for the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will traverse the United States from northern Oregon to South Carolina. The last time the US witnessed a solar eclipse was on June 8, 1918. 

A solar eclipse takes place when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, temporarily darkening the skies in the middle of the day. Solar eclipses have fascinated people throughout the ages and the feature of many myths and legends. The Inuit people believed a solar eclipse was a quarrel between the sun goddess Malina and her brother the moon god Anningan. In Mark Twain's parody, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the protagonist convinces the entire medieval court, including famed wizard Merlin, that he is a great magician by predicting a solar eclipse.

"With a common impulse the multitude rose slowly up and stared into the sky. I followed their eyes, as sure as guns, there was my eclipse beginning!" ~ Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Where is the best place to see the eclipse?

Take a trip to Carbondale, Illinois to witness the greatest effect of the eclipse. The total eclipse will last a full 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Other excellent locations to view the complete eclipse include:

  • 10:21 am PDT near Madras, Oregon
  • 11:30 am MDT near Stanley, Idaho
  • 11:42 am MDT near Casper, Wyoming
  • 12:54 pm CDT near North Platte, Nebraska 
  • 1:12 pm CDT near Marshall, Missouri
  • 1:21 pm CDT near Carbondale, Illinois
  • 1:27 pm CDT near Hopkinsville, Kentucky
  • 1:30 pm CDT near Watertown, Tennessee
  • 2:36 pm EDT near Andrews, North Carolina
  • 2:42 pm EDT near Saluda, South Carolina

How to safely view the eclipse

Never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse. UV rays can seriously damage your eyes and even cause you to go blind. Instead, you can use a telescope with proper sun filter or create a simple  DIY pinhole projector to project an image of the sun onto a piece of paper.

To create a pinhole projector, take a piece of cardboard and make a small hole in the center with a  pin or thumbtack. Then, place another sheet of paper on the ground or table and with your back to the sun hold the cardboard above your head directing the light from the pinhole onto the paper. Do not look at the sun through the pinhole.

 

Visit the official NASA 2017 eclipse website at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov for more information about the Great American Eclipse. The next total solar eclipse to cross the US will be on April 8, 2024.