Weekend Diversion: The Eclipse of a Lifetime is Coming (Synopsis)

“Astronomers are greatly disappointed when, having traveled halfway around the world to see an eclipse, clouds prevent a sight of it; and yet a sense of relief accompanies the disappointment.” -Simon Newcomb

For most of us, news of a total solar eclipse -- even though they happen (on average) once every three years -- seems distant and remote, and far from the possibility of us enjoying it. Have a listen to the Cat Stevens classic,

Moonshadow,

while you consider how rare it is to have the Moon's shadow fall on us.For those of us in the United States, we haven't seen a total solar eclipse since the 1990s, and even that only touched Hawaii!

Image credit: Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC. Image credit: Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC.

But on August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cut across the entire continental United States, touching the Oregon coast by the Pacific Ocean and exiting into the Atlantic on the coast of South Carolina. It will be the first eclipse to cut across the USA like that since 1918!

Image credit: The Great American Eclipse via http://greatamericaneclipse.com/. Image credit: The Great American Eclipse via http://greatamericaneclipse.com/.

Come get all the details about the Great American Eclipse, and start planning for it now!

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Furthermore those lucky enough to be able to get to Illinois can return seven years later to exactly the same spot and watch the 2024 total eclipse. Now that's a rare opportunity.

"and then proceed to fall across all of North America (as Earth rotates)"

Surely not. The rotation of the Earth will make the shadow of the moon move east to west. It is the motion of the moon in its orbit that makes its shadow move west to east, and at a much greater rate.

Our family needs to decide between road-tripping down to the Blue Ridge mountains, or flying out west. The sky is more likely to be clear in the west, but of course driving is easier.

By Young CC Prof (not verified) on 22 Dec 2014 #permalink

Love this article. I'm lucky enough to have my back yard get 1 minute 40 seconds of totality. the full 2:40 is less than an hour away!!!!