August 21, 2017
No human action can disrupt the incessant dance of the cosmos, and the Moon’s shadow will not wait on you if you’re not ready. Like a mindless juggernaut, it plows its way through space toward a collision course with Earth. As predicted by the astronomers decades in advance, the shadow arrives with perfect accuracy, and touches down in the north Pacific Ocean at 16:48:33 UT*, at local sunrise. (At that spot, the Sun will actually rise while totally eclipsed. This is a sight few people – even veteran eclipse chasers – have seen, and from what we hear, it is quite uncanny.)
A minute later, the entire shadow (the “umbral cone”) will have made landfall – er, ocean-fall – and will be racing across the surface of the water at supersonic speed. Except for folks on ships at sea, and the occasional ocean-dwelling critter who dares to venture too near the surface, nothing sentient will note the passing of the umbra – until land gets in the way.
If you do plan to observe the August 2017 eclipse, remember: NEVER look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, except when the solar disk is completely occluded (during the brief period of totality); serious and permanent eye damage can result.
“Proper eye protection” includes specially made solar filters, eclipse glasses or No. 14 welder’s glass. You can also observe the eclipse indirectly, by making a pinhole camera or watching shadows cast by trees. (The gaps between leaves act as natural pinholes.)