Next summer, the continental United States will be able to witness the first total solar eclipse visible from the North America in almost four decades. The event will happen on the 21st of August, 2017, and people, organizations, and the authorities have already started to prepare.
The total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from 70 miles wide area going from Oregon to South Carolina. The previous event happened on the 26th of February 1979, and it did not have the same magnitude as the next year’s eclipse.
The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse
Most solar eclipses are only partial, and they occur on average up to five times every year. Total eclipses appear every 18 months, and they are only visible from certain points around the globe.
The irregular appearance of solar eclipses is explained by the fact that the moon’s orbit is 5 degrees more inclined that the one of Earth, and therefore they don’t overlap on a strict basis. And as most regions on Earth are covered by waters, a total eclipse that can be observed from a continent is indeed a rare event.
The most dramatic effects will happen on the eclipse path, which stretches from Oregon through Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, then it goes to Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and finally arriving in Tennessee, Georgia, with a finish in North and South Carolina.
The rest of the US continental territory will only benefit from a partial eclipse, which is not visible to the naked eye.
The Sun’s Corona
The scientists are also interested in the event, as it offers the opportunity to study the Sun’s outer corona.
This region is much hotter than the surface of our star, having temperatures of up to 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit. In comparison, the rest of the Sun’s surface has a temperature of only 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The mystery of how the corona manages to get so hot is still bugging scientists, who will try to find out the process by which energy gets trapped in the outer area of the Sun.
People are advised not look directly at the Sun without protection, as it can result in severe eye damage even if the solar disk is hidden by the Moon.
Eclipse glasses or goggles must have a protection rate of 14 or higher. Telescopes, binoculars, and cameras must also have approved solar filters.
Anyone who is interested can manufacture a pinhole projector, with to cards that have holes in them, which they can later be used to watch the eclipse through a binocular lens.
The next total solar eclipse visible from North America will happen in 2024, with a path going from Texas to Midwest and the northeastern US.
Image Source: Flickr