MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The total solar eclipse cutting across the entirety of the U.S. is just a few days away, and residents in Minnesota or Wisconsin are going to be subject to a partial eclipse.
Forecasters say the eclipse will happen the afternoon of Aug. 21, with the moon’s 70-mile-wide shadow tracing across the United States, from Salem, Oregon in the Northwest, through Kansas City in the Great Plains and down to Charleston, South Carolina on the East Coast.
Not since 1970 have so many Americans had the chance to see a total solar eclipse, says J. Kelly Beatty, of Sky and Telescope Magazine. About 12 million people live directly under the eclipse path, and 220 million people are within a day’s drive.
From Minneapolis to Lincoln, Nebraska, which is on the northern edge of the eclipse path, it’s about a 6-hour drive. Those unable to venture from the Upper Midwest will still see a partial eclipse, with a little more than 80 percent of the sun obscured. Peak viewing time will be at 1:06 p.m.
Total eclipses are not rare phenomenon – they occur about every 18 years. But since most of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, they’re not always seen by many people.
Safety note: Those planning to look at the partial eclipse in Minnesota should do so only with special eyewear, or risk injury. Here is a list of reputable vendors of solar filters and viewers. Also, check here to find out how you can tell if your eclipse glasses are safe. [American Astronomical Society]
Additionally, NASA shared their recommended safety tips for viewing the eclipise. [NASA]
The total eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun and the Earth, blocking out the view of the sun. This complete block-out is possible because the moon is about 400 times smaller than the sun, and it’s also the same magnitude of difference away. Here’s a quick overview of the stages of a total eclipse. [Portal To The Universe]
When the eclipse happens in August, it’ll take about 90 minutes to travel over North America. The moon’s shadow will cruise over the United States at about 2,400 mph. Totality will last about 2 minutes.
After this summer’s event, the next total eclipse will happen in April of 2024.
NASA’s 2017 Eclipse App
Those planning a trip will want to make a weekend of it. Several states are anticipating traffic jams ahead of the eclipse, and some are even halting construction projects during the day.
Where you want to go might depend on what weather is expected in each place. Check here for a weather forecast for eclipse locations nationwide. [Weather.gov]
Another factor: what time the eclipse will be in totality during the day, for which (you guessed it) there is an app. [Solar Eclipse Timer]
A number of libraries across the country are hosting eclipse-viewing events, complete with free eclipse glasses. Here is a map of those. [Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning]
Also, the Hennepin County Library system said that they are holding several individual events, and that some require registration whereas others do not. Glasses are reserved for program participants.
And, of course, the temptation for many in the path may be to get a photo, or even a selfie with the eclipse. There are a few things amateur photojournalists should take into consideration before they snap those shots. [Space.com]
One final note: Bonnie Tyler will plan on singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” during the eclipse. [Time Magazine]