Solar EclipseUnless you have been living under a rock for the past month, it is inevitable that you’ve heard about the Great American Solar Eclipse coming on Monday (August 21st).

This will be the first time in 99 years that the eclipse will cross coast-to-coast, as well as 38 years since the lower 48 states will see the earth, moon and sun perfectly align on the same plane. If you are lucky enough, and in the right area of the continental U.S., you will see a path of totality and witness the total solar eclipse. Day will turn to night, the temperatures may drop and you will witness something that hasn’t crossed from sea to shining sea since 1918.

Using the skills I mastered while earning my MBA at Grantham University, I figured I’d clear up a few questions you may have. Check out the scientific grid I created, showcasing five of the coolest facts I found out about the Great American Solar Eclipse.

#1: No matter where you are in the continental United States, everyone will see at least a partial eclipse.

The path of totality for the Great American Solar Eclipse will begin around Lincoln City, Oregon, and cross through parts of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and end in South Carolina. Some of the major cities that it will cross through in totality, include Salem, Oregon; Casper, Wyoming; Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri; Nashville, Tennessee and Charleston, South Carolina.

Solar Eclipse Map

Did you know that the longest time that the eclipse will be visible is in Carbondale, Illinois, lasting for 2 minutes and 40 seconds? Two minutes and 40 seconds of complete darkness, deceptive nightfall, peculiar shadows, and a potential 10°–15° F drop in temperature.

#2: More than 10 million people are in the path of totality and 28 million people live within 60 miles of the path.

This Great American Solar Eclipse will also give more than 500 million people in the United States, Canada and Mexico the opportunity to see at least a partial eclipse.

#3: Blinded by the Light! Make sure you practice safe viewing techniques during the total solar eclipse.

Without proper eye protection, you should never look directly at the sun.  Fortunately for us, there are safe ways to view the eclipse. According to NASA, “special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers” are the only safe way to look at the eclipse. Check out this site to verify that your eclipse glasses are on the approved list of manufacturers, and haven’t been recalled.

Other safety tips from NASA include:

  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
  • If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases. Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.[i]

#4: This total solar eclipse is exclusively visible in the United States!

The last total solar eclipse to visit only the United States was prior to our country’s founding, and occurred on June 13, 1257. 1257! That is 519 years BEFORE the United States was founded. Talk about an exclusive event![ii]

#5: The Umbra and Penumbra - know which visible part of the moon you will see during this eclipse.

The moon has an inner shadow, called the umbra, which is what will be seen during the total solar eclipse. The moon also has an outer shadow, the penumbra, which is what those viewing the partial eclipse will see. [iii]

Though total solar eclipses will happen every few years, based on the rotation of the Earth, they may only be visible in extremely remote locations. At least 13 states are lucky enough to be located directly in the path of this 2017 phenomenon. After this one, continental North America will not experience another total solar eclipse until 2024, which will be visible from Mexico up through Texas, the Midwest and part of the northeastern corner of the U.S.

So make sure you’re prepared on August 21, 2017, and view one of nature’s most beautiful marvels firsthand.


Hallie RogersAbout Hallie Rogers

Hallie Rogers, communications associate, is part of Grantham University's editorial board. She earned her bachelor's degree in political science and government from Kansas State University and her MBA from Grantham.