A total solar eclipse will be visible on August 21, 2017, spanning a 60-mile band that goes over Oregon state and ends up in South Carolina.

It has been named the ‘Great American Eclipse’, which will be the biggest and most visible solar eclipse in history. Every fraction of U.S. soil will be able to see at least 90 percent of the sun covered by the moon, except Alaska, where its northern section will only see 40 percent of the eclipse. The eclipse will begin exactly at 15:45 UTC, whereas its maximum point will be visible from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, at 18:20, lasting for 2 minutes and 40 seconds. It will be the first total eclipse visible in the 48 mainland United States since the year 1979, spanning a coast-to-coast sky, something that had not occurred since 1918, a full 99 years.

The next total solar eclipse will be visible in the eastern section of the U.S. on April 8, 2024. Image Credit: Thing Link

A nationwide cosmic party

Celebrations are already being planned for this cosmic event, which has been oftentimes named as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The critical pathway of the eclipse encompasses Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, a portion of Kansas, Montana, the southern section of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.

There are at least 12 million people living within the trajectory of the eclipse, while over 200 million are expected to drive to the eclipse’s pathway as it conveniently cuts the whole nation in half.

Towns and cities are jumping on the bandwagon to attract tourists and provide accommodations for those that want to witness a landmark in the history of American astronomical events.

Eclipses have a place in culture as events that cause both fear and curiosity. For instance, the Pomo, a race of indigenous tribes in the northwestern part of the U.S., tell a legend of a bear that became overzealous and started a fight with the sun, managing to bite a portion of it. After the conflict, the bear went to the moon and bit it too, which in part caused a lunar eclipse. The story highlights the relation between lunar and solar eclipse, which tend to occur about two weeks apart from each other.

Did we just miss a lunar eclipse?

A lunar eclipse is when the earth’s shadow is projected directly on the moon. Because the sun, the moon, and the earth have to be aligned for this to occur, lunar eclipses only happen in a full moon.

On August 18, it was calculated that there would be an “almost lunar eclipse,” also known as a penumbral lunar eclipse. A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the earth’s shadow comes very close to the moon, without ever projecting itself onto the moon’s surface. If it would have been an eclipse, it would have been visible from every point in the United States and the American continent, only excluding the eastern sections of Brazil and Canada.

On September 1, an annular solar eclipse will be visible from Africa, Madagascar and the most western bit of Australia. On September 16 through 17, a penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible from Europe and Australia.

To keep yourself up-to-date with the upcoming moon and sun eclipses, you can visit TimeAndDate for a comprehensive schedule of these future cosmic sightings.

Source: USA Today