The Great American Eclipse of 2017

Only two weeks away now! Rather than write a lengthy post, I’m just going to address the main questions I’ve been getting over the past few months.

The sun is going to be 90% obscured at my home. Is it worth traveling to the path of totality?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Unless you have witnessed it, you cannot imagine what an awe-inspiring sight this is. Just as no picture of the Grand Canyon can do it proper justice, no video or photograph of a total solar eclipse can convey what it is like to gaze at a black hole in the sky where the sun shone an hour before. As one wit remarked, “Seeing a partial solar eclipse and saying you’ve seen an eclipse is like standing outside an opera house and saying you’ve seen an opera.”

Where will I be able to see a total eclipse?

The two best interactive maps I have found are here and here. The times on the Google map are given in UT (Universal Time), which is four hours ahead of EDT (Eastern Daylight Time), five hours ahead of Central Daylight Time, etc.

Will I see the same thing anywhere within that dark shadow?

The closer you are to the center line of the path of totality, the longer the period of totality. That time is roughly two and a half minutes. Which will seem like ten seconds.

When is it safe to look directly at the sun?

During totality, the sun’s surface is completely obscured by the moon, and it is perfectly safe to look directly at it. The few seconds immediately before and immediately after totality will allow you to witness the “diamond ring” effect, as the last visible portion of the sun’s surface peeks through lunar mountain ranges at the edge of the moon’s disc. Other than those few seconds before and after totality, and during totality itself, you need special eclipse glasses to safely look at the partial phases.

diamond ring

So where can I get these special eclipse glasses?

They are selling out fast. Amazon has many available from multiple vendors. But you need to be careful…

I heard some of these aren’t safe. How do I know if mine are?

Go here.

Clear skies and safe viewing, everyone!


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