Thirty eight years ago, the moon passed through several U.S. states and a few Canadian provinces. Fast forward to 2017 and the earth, sun and moon are aligning once again. The real reason to get even more excited this round is that the U.S. will experience its first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years.
This solar eclipse is a big deal!
* Photo and more info found at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/06/total-solar-eclipse-august-how-watch-science/
Everyone across the U.S. will at least see a partial eclipse, but those living along the “red line” will see a total eclipse that could last up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds in some places.
An eclipse of the sun happens when the New Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, blocking out the Sun's rays and casting a shadow on parts of Earth. On August 21, the moon's shadow will block the sun from view in a total solar eclipse.
Types of Solar Eclipses*
There are 4 different types of solar eclipses. How much of the Sun's disk is eclipsed, the eclipse magnitude, depends on which part of the Moon's shadow falls on Earth.
1. Partial solar eclipses occur when the Moon only partly obscures the Sun's disk and casts only its penumbra on Earth.
2. Annular solar eclipses take place when the Moon's disk is not big enough to cover the entire disk of the Sun, and the Sun's outer edges remain visible to form a ring of fire in the sky. An annular eclipse of the Sun takes place when the Moon is near apogee, and the Moon's antumbra falls on Earth.
3. Total solar eclipses happen when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and it can only take place when the Moon is near perigee, the point of the Moon's orbit closest to Earth. You can only see a total solar eclipse if you're in the path where the Moon's casts its darkest shadow, the umbra.
4. Hybrid Solar Eclipses, also known as annular-total eclipses, are the rarest type. They occur when the same eclipse changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse, and/or vice versa, along the eclipse's path.
* This info pulled from https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/solar-eclipse.html
Wherever you are in the United States, you're going to want to look up, and that's OK. Every astronomer in the country will tell you to enjoy this rare opportunity. But do so with extreme caution.
Dangers associated with a Solar Eclipse
Wear approved glasses – not sunglasses! There is no time that you can look directly at the sun safely without special equipment. The sun’s rays carry many different types of light that can cause physical and chemical damage to your vision.
Think of it like sunburn, but in the eye.
The retina may translate light into an electrical impulse that the brain understands, but one thing it can't translate to your brain is pain. So even if you're excited about the eclipse and think one brief glimpse at the sun before it completely hides behind the moon is worth it -- it's not. There's no internal trigger that is going to let you know that you've looked at the sun for too long. Any amount of looking at it is too long.
The best way to protect your eyes from the solar eclipse is to use only special filters or glasses that meet the American Astronomical Society recommended ISO rating of 12312-2. That means it will adequately protect the eye from UV rays and other harmful rays. To make sure that your glasses meet the standard, you can test them by placing a lens in front of your cell phone.
“If you happen to have bought these filters even through a credible source, but when you put them on, if you actually see the outlines of the furniture or the room, this is not up to par at all," Doctor Faruk Orge, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, said. “You should not be able to see anything through this unless there is a very strong light source."
Protect your camera as well! Just like our eyes, cameras are sensitive to the sun’s powerful rays and could be damaged if you don’t use the proper filters and equipment. The types of gear you’ll need to use varies depending on the type of camera you’ll use to shoot the main event. While Nikon does not manufacture solar lenses for your DSLR camera, they do provide sharp insight for what you will need to ensure you do not ruin your camera.