I’m going to go off topic in this article since this event is more natural science than tech, but I couldn’t resist. As you probably heard by now a Total Eclipse of the Sun will occur on August 21, 2017. It will travel directly over the continental United States.
It will travel a path from the Pacific Northwest at Lincoln City, Oregon and travel through America’s heartland, then southeast to the Atlantic shore at Charleston, South Carolina. The umbra or darkest shadow will be traveling at about 1000 miles per hour. If you are directly below the path you will experience 100% coverage of the Sun. It will be an awesome sight. Of course, how much you see of the Eclipse depends on where you are on the planet. Here in Las Vegas, we will see approximately 71% coverage of the Sun by the Moon.
A Rare Experience
How often do we get to see such a spectacular view in our corner of the universe? Once in my life about 40 years ago I was in the right place at the right time to see a total Eclipse of the Sun. An awesome sight indeed. A total eclipse happens more often than you might think. But they are visible at different points on the planet, which is why they seem to be a rare event.
Of course, precautions need to be taken when viewing the eclipse or it may be permanently burned into your retina. There are special glasses you can use to view the event, and I’ve heard that looking at it through a film negative (if you can find one) will filter it as well. And then there is the old trick with two pieces of cardboard where you make a pin hole in the middle of one, position it above the second piece and when the sun spot on the lower cardboard turns black, it should be safe to take a quick look at this phenomena.
An interactive Google map has been put together by Xavier Jubier that will help you track this event during its journey across the United States. Check it out here.
Click on any point on the map and you can see just how much of the eclipse will be visible from your location.
There are a number of FREE apps that will help you enjoy this event and get more out of it. These are three of my favorites:
- Solar Eclipse 2017
- Smithsonian Eclipse 2017
Solar Eclipse 2017 by Time and Date shows the path of the eclipse on an interactive map. It also provides an animation of the eclipse. There is also an animated “Shadow Path”. In addition, the app provides DIY instructions for projects for safe viewing like a binocular projector and a pinhole projector.
Smithsonian Eclipse 2017. This app provides a countdown timer to first contact in Oregon. There is a gallery of video clips from the Solar Dynamics Observatory showing recent solar activity under different wavelengths of light. There are links to solar research content from SAO and more. An educational app for sure.
Totally is a cool app from Big Kid Science. View the video introduction for a tour of the app. Totally lets you enter a location and provides directions and travel time to the closest point on the map that will bring you to a location where you can see total coverage of the Sun by the Moon. It also has an interactive map displaying the path of the eclipse. A robust Education section of classroom activities is also included.
We will not see another Total Eclipse pass over the US for many years so on August 21, 2017, protect your eyes and get out and enjoy this natural wonder.
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