The Great American Eclipse

For the first time in U.S. history, a total solar eclipse that crosses the country from coast to coast will be visible only in America. The rare celestial spectacle in August has been dubbed “The Great American Eclipse.” No one outside the continental U.S. will be able to see the eclipse, which makes landfall on the West Coast near Salem, Ore. and continues diagonally across the country until it hits Columbia, S.C.

In addition to being the first total solar eclipse with a trajectory exclusive to the U.S. since the birth of America in 1776, it’s also the first total eclipse of the sun that will be visible from the contiguous U.S. since 1979. The event is different from a lunar eclipse, which occurs when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon and blocks sunlight from reaching the moon.

The total solar eclipse will begin there at 10:16 a.m. The total eclipse will then move from the West Coast to the East Coast, ending near Columbia, S.C. at 2:44 p.m. EST. In all, the eclipse will take just about an hour and a half to traverse the country. Viewers must be within the eclipse’s path of totality, which spans about 70 miles wide, to see the sun as it’s completely blocked.

Americans who miss the August event can will get another shot in 2024 when a solar eclipse comes up from Mexico and hits several states on its diagonal path from Texas through New England.

Better luck next time, Pennsylvania. In 2024. But, as for the solar eclipse this summer, on Aug. 21, unless you’re willing to travel, a partial is all we’ll be seeing. Pennsylvania will be in better position for the next total solar eclipse, on April 8, 2024. The path of totality for that one will cross the U.S. from Texas to Maine.

The question remains for most of Pennsylvania, can you look at a partial solar eclipse without protective eyewear? The answer is no. Any stage of a solar eclipse is dangerous to your eyesight. Even if you are in the area of a partial eclipse, it is best to use protective NASA certified glasses. You can also make a pinhole camera to view the eclipse safely. Details on how to make one is here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/how-to-make-a-pinhole-camera/

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