DR. SKY BLOG

Get ready for the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

Mar 28, 2017, 9:37 AM
The moon is obscuring part of the sun over flowers during a solar eclipse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, ...
The moon is obscuring part of the sun over flowers during a solar eclipse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

On Aug. 21, the moon will obscure the sun for millions of observers in 12 states.

Only those that are lucky enough to be in a small band of the moon’s shadow can experience the total phase.

Are you going to be one of those?

Arizona is not one of the states where the moon will completely cover the sun during the Great American Total Solar Eclipse. The best one can hope for in observing the eclipse from Arizona is seeing a deep partial eclipse of the sun that will reach maximum at 10:33 a.m. on Aug. 21.

About 70 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon.

This can be a very dangerous partial eclipse to view if you do not have the proper solar filters on telescopes and cameras, as well as eclipse glasses to view it directly.

The best way to observe this rare eclipse is to be in the direct path of totality.

This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States since February 1979.

Because of the large population that the path of totality crosses, this might be the most observed total eclipse in recent history.

Strange as it may appear, the sun is 400 times wider than the moon, but it lies 400 times farther from Earth than the moon. This can create a special alignment when both appear as the same size in our skies — thus a perfect eclipse.

For the Aug. 21 eclipse, there are some 200 million people that live within an hour drive of the 70-mile wide band of totality.

For those lucky enough to be in the band of totality, you can expect more than two minutes of that rare totality.

Here is a map, which shows the eclipse path and where you need to be to see totality:

eclipse-path

In future columns, I will provide you with the best tips of how to view, photograph and video the event. I’ll also share locations that I feel are the best to travel to along with tips on how to safely view the partial eclipse from Arizona.

Please note that if you have not made travel and hotel reservations by now, many locations are sold out.

The Dr. Sky team will be visiting Idaho with our special RV known as SKYSHIP and observing the event with friends and family.

At this time, you may be better off driving an RV to the eclipse and be ready to observe this rare event from the comfort of your coach.

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Get ready for the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017