4 things to know about the 2017 total solar eclipse


On Aug. 21, 2017, millions of Americans will witness the moon, sun and earth line up to create a total solar eclipse. The eclipse will cross the United States from coast to coast for the first time since 1918, reports NASA experts. It should be first noticed at 10:15 a.m. Pacific Time along the Oregon coast near Lincoln City, and end at 2:48 p.m. Eastern Time close to Charleston, SC.

Most areas of the U.S. will experience only a partial eclipse, but people in specific areas in 11 states could witness the full eclipse. However, you’ve heard this and it’s true, during the eclipse do not look directly at the sun. Here are four things you need to know:

  1. Frequency – On Aug. 21, the moon will pass in front of the sun and completely cover the center. At that point, the moon and sun will look about the same size, but interestingly they are not. The sun is about 400 times bigger than the moon, and it is 400 times farther away from the earth. This makes earth the only planet in the solar system with a moon that’s the correct size and distance to create a total solar eclipse.
  2. Time – During the eclipse, the moon will cover at least part of the sun for 2 to 3 hours. About half way through the process, people who are in the center of the moon’s shadow will experience the total eclipse for close to 3 minutes. The sky will turn dark as night. If you’re out and about, you may want to have a flashlight handy.

  3. Weather – As the sky turns dark, temperatures will drop several degrees. If the weather is cloudy or rainy, the eclipse will not be visible. But, you will be able to feel it get cooler.

  4. Eye protection – Vision experts advise people not to look directly at the sun for any length of time, because it can cause eye injury or permanent eye damage. You’ll need special glasses for safe viewing.
    • Eclipse eyewear – Do not watch the eclipse with regular sunglasses, even those with dark lenses and UV protection, or homemade solar filters. These are not designed to protect your eyes during an eclipse.
    • Solar filters – Wear approved eclipse glasses, or look through an approved hand-held viewer, with solar filters that meet eclipse safety standards. Experts warn that some businesses have sold imitation eclipse glasses that are not safe.
      • If using a camera or binoculars to watch the eclipse, make sure the lenses are fitted with an approved solar filter.
      • Do not look through an optical viewing device, like binoculars, while wearing eclipse glasses or using a hand-held solar viewer. The intense solar rays will damage the filters and could injure your eyes.
    • Damaged filters – Don’t use eclipse glasses or viewers with scratches or holes, even if they are small. This means the solar filter is damaged. Be gentle with your eclipse eyewear and check the lenses before using them.
    • Keep them on – Only take off eclipse glasses or lower viewers when the eclipse is finished or when looking away from the sun. Scientists warn that even a sliver of the eclipsed sun is too bright for viewing.
    • Watch online – For ultimate vision protection, watch NASA’s live webcast of the eclipse online with coworkers, friends or family in the comfort of your office or home.


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