The Great American Eclipse happens tomorrow afternoon

Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017 map

The map shows the path of totality in the southeast as well as the Florida panhandle which will see 82 percent coverage. (NASA)

HOLT, Fla., Aug. 20, 2017–The first solar eclipse to cross the entire continental United States since 1979 occurs tomorrow.

Everyone in North America will be able to experience this eclipse, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Here in Holt, watchers will see 82 percent coverage, according to NASA. During this time, daylight will dim considerably; however, it will not turn completely into nighttime.

For Holt, the eclipse begins at 12:05 p.m. and ends at 3:03 p.m. with maximum coverage at 1:37 p.m. CDT.

The eclipse falls directly over five state capitals as it makes it way coast to coast: Salem, Oregon; Lincoln, Neb., Jefferson City, Mo.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Columbia, S.C. The path of totality is only 70 miles wide.

An estimated 12 million people who live in the band of totality will experience this event probably with more than 200 million of their closest friends as people from across the United States and other countries flock to the path.

Partial phases of the eclipse will last two-to-three hours; however, at its maximum the eclipse will last only 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

The United States has seen 15 total eclipses that traversed the country in the past 150 years, beginning in 1867.

The next time this happens will be in 2045 with the sun takes a similar path but will be 200 miles south. A good portion of the Florida panhandle will be included in that one.

What happens during an eclipse

eclipse

During a solar eclipse, the moon moves between the sun and the earth, casting a shadow. (NOAA)

During a solar eclipse, the sun, moon and earth all align with the moon between the sun and earth, completely blocking the sun.

Those in the umbra–moon’s direct shadow–will experience a total eclipse. Those in the moon’s penumbra, as in Holt, will experience a partial eclipse.

As the moon circles the earth, its shadow travels at 2,400 mph, more than three times the speed of sound, which is why a total covering of the sun lasts for only a short period of time.

Weather

According to the National Weather Service, Holt’s weather tomorrow will be partly sunny skies with a 40 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms. In other words, pretty much the same as it’s been for the past week.

However, even with cloudy skies, the area will experience effects of the eclipse.

Viewing the eclipse

Everyone should take care when viewing the eclipse, even when it’s cloudy or overcast.

Staring at the sun can cause permanent eye damage due to near-infrared radiation. Because the eye can’t see that type of light, and because the retina doesn’t have pain receptors, it’s possible to not realize damage is being done.

Only during the total phase, in the path of totality when the sun is completely covered by the moon, is it safe to look directly without special filters, and then for only as long as the moon completely blocks the sun.

Once the sun’s crescent begins to show, it becomes dangerous again.

Viewers in Holt won’t see a total phase and should use special filters while viewing the eclipse.

And while it may be tempting to try to photograph the eclipse, pointing a camera lens at the sun will damage sensors, screens and other parts, depending on type used, including cell phone cameras.

According to Nikon, solar filters are needed even if the sun is 99 percent covered.

Stephanie Holcombe

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