A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers the face of the Sun as seen from Earth. The complete coverage allows us to see the day as if it were night, and it reveals the solar corona's ghostly wisps. The next total solar eclipse will occur this summer on August 21, 2017, and the eclipse path will cross the continental United States.
|Solar Eclipse During Totality in 2015. Image by Miloslav Druckmüller, Shadia Habbal, Peter Aniol, Pavel Štarha|
The solar eclipse begins on August 21, 2017, at 16:48:33 Universal Time (UT), when the shadow descends down on the Pacific Ocean and the Moon takes its first small piece out of the Sun. Totality begins at 18:24:11.9 UT.
August 21, 2017, seemed a long way off from when we first starting talking about this event a few years ago, but for the astronomically savvy the clock has been ticking, and there was no time to waste. Between the last couple of years and now we needed to figure out how to ensure a good experience for the estimated 500 million people across North America who will stand in the Moon's shadow that day.
|Path of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.|
Observe the Total Solar Eclipse Safely!
You should NEVER look directly at the sun, but there are ways to safely observe an eclipse. If you do plan to observe the August 2017 eclipse, remember: NEVER look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, except when the solar disk is completely occluded (during the brief period of totality); serious and permanent eye damage can result. However, we wouldn't recommend looking toward the sun without proper eye protection during any part of the eclipse.
"Proper eye protection" includes specially made solar filters, eclipse glasses or No. 14 welder's glass. There are also Solar Eclipse Kits for that are available for viewing this rare event. Observing the eclipse can be done without any astronomical equipment by making a pinhole camera or watching shadows cast by trees. (The gaps between leaves act as natural pinholes.)
Below are a few items that will allow you to view the eclipse in a safe manner:
|Orion Solar Eclipse Safe Viewing Glasses, 5-Pack||4.30" ID Set of Orion Binocular Solar Filters||Orion Solar Eclipse Safe Viewer, 5-pack|
You may also safely see the eclipse the old-fashioned way by building a Shoebox Pinhole Camera. Finally, if you miss out on the August 2017 event, don't panic as you'll get another chance seven years later. In 2024, a total solar eclipse will darken the skies above Mexico and Texas, up through the Midwest and northeastern U.S.