On Monday, August 21, the United States will see what's being dubbed "The Great American Eclipse." That's because the solar eclipse will cross directly across the U.S. from the northwest coast, exiting to the southeast. The last time a total eclipse was visible from the U.S. was back in February of 1979.
There has been a lot of debate on where the best location to view the event will be. And obviously weather plays a big part. If it's cloudy, you won't be able to see it. But the UA Flandrau Associate Director of Communication, Shipherd Reed, tells KGUN 9, "There are certainly places like Oregon and Wyoming, I believe, where the chance of having a clear day is higher statistically."
The moon's shadow will enter the United States around Oregon, pass diagonally through the center of the U.S., and exit near South Carolina. For us here in Tucson, the sun will only be covered about 60% by the moon. In fact, you will only see a partial eclipse in most of the United States.
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the Great American Eclipse, is that the sky will go completely dark. That is false. In fact, here in Tucson, skies will only slightly dim and appear as though a cloud has partially covered the sun as the eclipse hits it peak 60%. And even if you're in the path of the total eclipse, it will still not go completely dark. Reed says, "In the path of totality the entire disk of the sun will be covered, but still it will not go completely dark. It will be kind of like dusk, like just after the sun sets."
The best way to view the eclipse, regardless of where you're watching it, is with solar viewing glasses. Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes when looking directly as the sun. Flandrau is selling the solar viewing glasses for just 4 bucks, or you can view the eclipse from a solar telescope for free on the day of the event.
Although we won't experience a total eclipse here in Tucson, what we will see is still pretty rare.
Even a 60% solar eclipse is something that usually happens only once or twice in a lifetime. The eclipse will last nearly 3 hours. It will begin around 9:15 AM, cross at its highest point at 10:36 AM, and exit just before noon. Reed adds, "You'll see that shadow getting bigger and bigger and bigger on the face of the sun until it's covering that 60-percent, and then it will diminish gradually.".
Flandrau will also have a live stream from NASA in the Planetarium Theater, where you can view the total eclipse as its happening.