On August 21, 2017, a rare solar eclipse will make its way across the United States. It will be most visible in a path that runs from Oregon to South Carolina. In California, a partial eclipse will be visible.
How It Happens
A solar eclipse, or eclipse of the sun, happens when the moon passes in front of the sun and blocks its light. A total solar eclipse happens when the entire moon is directly in front of the sun. This is the most impressive type of eclipse.
How to See the Total Solar Eclipse
The total solar eclipse won’t be visible in California, so if you want to see this rare event, you’re going to have to travel. The nearest locations are in Oregon, in and around Salem. The total eclipse will also be visible in some parts of Idaho, including the areas just north of Boise and around Idaho Falls.
For a complete look at the path the total eclipse will take, check out NASA’s interactive map.
If you decide to go on a road trip to see the total eclipse, make sure you time it right. The eclipse happens on August 21, but it won’t last all day. According to NASA’s map, the total eclipse will last for less than two minutes in Salem, Oregon, starting at 10:17 a.m. Pacific Time.
How to Enjoy the Partial Eclipse
If you can’t travel to see the total solar eclipse, you can still enjoy the partial eclipse in California, although it won’t be nearly as impressive.
At first glance, NASA’s map appears to show only the path of the total eclipse. It looks like the rest of the country doesn’t see anything at all, but this is misleading. Simply zoom in to find your city and click on it. The map will tell what will be visible there and when.
For example, if you click on Sacramento, you’ll be informed that the partial eclipse starts at 16:02:32.6 UT, ends at 18:39:17.6 UT and reaches its maximum at 17:16:56.5 UT. In other words, the partial eclipse is most visible at around 10:17 a.m. in Sacramento.
The obscuration in Sacramento is 78.05 percent – this is how much of the sun will be blocked. The farther north you go in California, the higher the obscuration rate is. In San Diego, it’s only 57.59 percent. In Crescent City, it’s 90.69 percent.
Do Not Stare Directly at the Sun!
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t stare directly at the sun during a partial eclipse. Yes, it’s really possible to go blind this way. To learn how to make a pinhole projector using cardboard, check out the instructions at timeanddate.com. You can also use filters designed for solar observation – no, your regular sunglasses won’t do. Get something that’s designed specifically for viewing the solar eclipse, like the shades here.
If you’re taking a road trip to Oregon, make sure you have great auto insurance. Dashers can help!
One last note: Make sure your glasses on on the American Astronomical Society’s list of approved vendors. Some companies have been selling glasses that may not protect your eyes.