August 2017 total solar eclipse: When, where and how to best view the rare celestial event

By on

For the first time since 1979, a total solar eclipse will be visible from contiguous United States. This means that several neighboring states will be able to view the same natural occurrence at the same time.

READ: Geminid Meteor Shower & Supermoon December 2016 Australia: How and when to best view these sky spectacles

What is a total solar eclipse?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon covers the whole visible area of the sun from one particular area on earth. The moon therefore casts a shadow, the darkest of which is called the umbra. In the areas that the umbra is cast on, it can sometimes be as dark as night. Meanwhile, areas where only a portion of the sun is covered experience a partial solar eclipse.

When will it be and from where will it be seen?

According to EarthSky.Org, the total solar eclipse will be visible on Aug. 21, 2017. However, the same will only be viewable from a narrow strip that passes through the United States. More specifically, it will pass through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. However, other neighboring states will be graced with a partial solar eclipse.

The path of the August 2017 total solar eclipse will begin at the North Pacific, at about 2400 kilometres west of North America at 4:49pm UT1. However, it will first cover land at the Pacific coastline of Oregon at 5:16pm UT1.

READ: New Zealand Earthquake 2016: Supermoon links, sky lighting up in colours

How to view the August 2017 total solar eclipse safely?

As Eclipse Wise has noted, every total solar eclipse begins and ends with a partial solar eclipse. However, a partial solar eclipse should only be viewed via a special projection technique or a special solar filter. It is only during the few minutes when the sun is completely blocked by the moon that it is safe to look directly at the sun with the naked eye. The use of binoculars or a telescope during this time will provide a more detailed view.

Join the Discussion