As you've probably heard by now, the biggest and best solar eclipse in American history is coming soon to a sky near you! On Aug. 21 this year, a total solar eclipse will be visible from coast to coast. In fact, it will be the first total eclipse visible only in the USA since the country's founding in 1776!

We are here to give you plenty of informaton about this spectacular event!

So, what is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. The moon appears to completely cover the disk of the sun. By blocking the sun's light, the moon casts a shadow that turns day into twilight here on Earth.

When is the next solar eclipse?

The next total solar eclipse here in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024, which will be visible from Texas to New England only.

When was the most recent total solar eclipse?

In the U.S., it was on Feb. 26, 1979, in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota. The August eclipse will be the first total solar eclipse that will be visible from coast to coast since June 1918! Elsewhere, the most recent total solar eclipse was in Indonesia on March 9, 2016.

eclipse5-1.jpgWhen does the solar eclipse begin?

It depends on where you live. The eclipse will start on the West Coast in Oregon and trace a 67-mile wide path east across the country, finally exiting the East Coast in South Carolina. The total eclipse begins in Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PDT. (To be the first person on land to see the eclipse, be on the waterfront at Government Point, Ore., at 10:15:56.5 a.m. PDT.) The total eclipse will end near Charleston, S.C., at 2:48 p.m. EDT.

How long will this solar eclipse last? 

At any given location, the total eclipse will last for around 2 or 3 minutes. But from the beginning of the eclipse in Oregon to the end of the eclipse in South Carolina, the eclipse will last about an hour and a half.

 

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 Where is the "path of totality?"

The path, in which the moon's shadow sweeps across the Earth's surface, will cross parts of 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Some of the larger cities directly in the path include Nashville, Tenn.; and Greenville, Columbia and Charleston in South Carolina. Both Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., are barely outside the path.

Smaller towns in the path include Salem, Ore.; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Casper, Wyo.; Grand Island and Lincoln, Neb.; St. Joseph and Columbia, Mo.; Bowling Green, Ky., Clarksville and Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Anderson, S.C.

How many people will be able see the total eclipse?

An estimated 12 million people live within the path of totality. The number of people within just one day's drive of the totality zone is around 200 million! Wow!

eclipse1-1.JPG What will the solar eclipse look like?

During a total solar eclipse, the disk of the moon blocks out the last sliver of light from the sun, and the sun's outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible. The corona isn't an indistinct haze; skywatchers report seeing great jets and ribbons of light, twisting and curling out into the sky.

What can happen during the total eclipse?

Plants and animals act as though night is falling, as flowers close up and birds return to roost.

We really want to stress eye safety for the eclipse! So, how can you look at the solar eclipse?

The only moment it's safe to look at the eclipse is during the 2-3 minutes when the sun is completely behind the moon. Before and after that — during the partial eclipse — special eclipse glasses, or welder's goggles, must be worn. That's because the sun’s surface is so bright that if you stare at any portion of it, no matter how small, it produces enough light to permanently damage your retina! Yikes! Our eyes never evolved to look at the sun without suffering severe damage. Regular sunglasses are also not safe to use.

Can you take a photo of the eclipse with your smartphone?

Yes, but the quality may be rather poor, as smartphones were never designed for sun and moon photography. The best thing to do is to cover the camera lens with a solar filter during the moments before (and after) the total eclipse when the sunlight is still blinding. Though it may be OK for a few moments, it's not wise to point your smartphone camera at the brilliant, un-eclipsed sun for an extended period of time without putting a filter over the lens. A telephoto lens system is absolutely a must-have for quality eclipse photography with a smartphone.

Will traffic be bad on Aug. 21?

Yes, it could be one of the worst traffic days in U.S. history, some NASA representatives predict. Reserve your cabin today and don't miss out! Call 1-800-371-0341 and let us help you find the best accomodations!