Final New Moon Sunday Starts the Countdown to the Great American Eclipse

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By Joe Rao

It seems that everyone is eagerly awaiting the shady drama that will be enacted in the skies over North America on Aug. 21. It is a play whose script was written eons ago: On that third Monday in August, the celestial wanderings of the sun, Earth and moon will cause our natural satellite to pass directly in front of the sun, resulting in a total eclipse on Aug. 21.

The narrow band of totality, averaging some 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide and stretching about 2,500 miles (4,023 km) from the Pacific coast of Oregon to the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, will provide a spectacle that has not been seen from any part of the contiguous United States in nearly 40 years.

To say that this has been an eagerly awaited astronomical event is an understatement.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – It seems that everyone is eagerly awaiting the shady drama that will be enacted in the skies over North America on Aug. 21.
    It is a play whose script was written eons ago:
    On that third Monday in August,
    the celestial wanderings of the sun, Earth and moon will cause our natural satellite to pass directly in front of the sun,
    resulting in a total eclipse on Aug. 21.

    Those in North America COULD get two shows for the price of one, as the tail-end of the Perseid Meteor Shower is also in the darkened skies of the upper atmosphere, at that time of year!

    https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/meteor-shower/perseid.html

    The Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter meteor showers of the year, occurs every year between July 17 and August 24. The shower tends to peak around August 9-13.

    The best time to view the Perseids, and most other meteor showers, is when the sky is the darkest. Most astronomers suggest that depending on the Moon’s phase, the best time to view meteor showers is right before dawn.

  2. I’m lucky enough to live in an area that’s in the path of totality; and this eclipse happens to occur on my daughter’s birthday as well. She’s laughing it up telling superstitious coworkers and friends that it must mean she’s super-special. We’re planning a big party for the event! I have been lucky – I also lived in an area that was in the path of totality for a solar eclipse 38 years ago, which I viewed with a crowd of enthusiasts from the top of the hill at Montana Tech in Butte, Montana. It was awe-inspiring and unforgettable. I’m so fortunate to be able to see two such events in my life without having to travel at all!

  3. Sue Blue, from what I understand the focal point of the eclipse is about seventy miles.
    On the coast of Washington what do you expect to see? Do I need to drive to Oregon that day?

  4. @alf

    the focal point of the eclipse is about seventy miles

    Is that your way of saying the path of the total eclipse is about 70 miles wide, and it extends from coast to coast?

    Lots of lucky Americans will be living on that path. Of course, a lot more won’t be.

    You can use this interactive map from NASA to zoom in on the path and find out the exact locations from which it will be visible.

    https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2017Aug21Tgoogle.html

    Good luck, I hope you’re able to see it.

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