25/05/2017

The Great American Solar Eclipse 2017 – What to Look Out For

In just a few months millions of people in America will witness a rare astronomical phenomenon of unmatched beauty. On the 21st of August this year, the sun will be completely hidden by the moon and its shadow will be cast in a path that extends from Oregon to South Carolina. The sun will be blotted out fully in stretches of 35-71 km width, and people outside of this will be able to see a partial eclipse.
Be Alert To the Hazard
The shadow of the moon will travel across America at 2,400 miles per hour taking 3 hours and 13 minutes to traverse the nation. Around 12 million people living in 21 cities will be able to see the total eclipse while another 174 million within 400 km of the path will experience a partial solar eclipse. The event has been named the "Great American Solar Eclipse" because the path of totality covers only the USA and does not touch any other nation; a completely unprecedented occurrence.
Regardless of where you live, it is important to understand that you should never look directly at the sun, except for the brief period of the total eclipse. This is because the sun emits UV rays of such intensity that they can cause severe retinal damage and even blindness. Common sunglasses and dark x-ray films do not provide the required protection, and it is essential that you use the special sunglasses made for solar viewing. If you are going to be using cameras and binoculars, you need to use special filters.
Incredible Sights That You Should Not Miss
You will need to have weather on your side for a great viewing experience. It is likely that the best views will be in the western half of USA; however, do follow the weather forecasts, because you really don’t want an overcast sky spoiling your chance of viewing this amazing spectacle.
At the time of the eclipse, the wind will start gusting from all directions due to the contraction of air caused by the sudden temperature drop. As the skies darken, animals, birds, and insects will tend to act strangely. The boundaries of the eclipse totality are signaled by the appearance of the diamond ring effect and Baily’s beads. Shortly before the total eclipse, the crescent sun’s horns meet to produce the brilliant single diamond effect, after which, it is replaced by brilliant sunlight beads caused by the sunlight shining through the depressions and valleys of the moon’s surface. After the moment of totality, the beads again appear followed by the diamond ring effect. Both the partial eclipse phenomena should be viewed with great care through proper filters as otherwise, it can be hazardous to the eyes.
Conclusion
If you’re outside the limits of the moon’s umbra, your experience of the solar eclipse will be diluted because you will not be able to view the corona. Remember, the next total solar eclipse in America will only be on April 8, 2024, so you should ideally grab this opportunity.

Author bio: Dave Albright teaches astronomy at a reputed college. He has been writing a number of articles on the great American solar eclipse for casual viewers.
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