Most people aren’t normally fans of Monday. After a weekend of rest, relaxation, and a little adventure, Monday represents a pinprick in the fun bubble – a siren’s call back to the real world. And as we groggily drag ourselves into work on Monday morning, we moan and groan about the day’s very existence over our second, third, and sometimes fourth cup of coffee.
But it turns out that not all Mondays are created equal – in fact, when it comes to days that start the work week, August 21st should be a pretty exciting one. Why, you ask? Because on Monday, August 21st, 2017 there will be a natural phenomenon that hasn’t occurred in the US in nearly forty years.
Total Solar Eclipse
When it comes to solar eclipses, the full eclipse is only viewable in a narrow area (spanning around 160 miles) known as the “path of totality”. Sounds epic, right? In this instance, the path of totality travels across the country from southeast to northwest – meaning that in portions of 14 states, spectators will be treated to the rare phenomenon of a total solar eclipse. For the rest of us, a partial eclipse will be in the cards – but that’s still a pretty cool thing to see!
The last time a full solar eclipse was visible from any part of the continental United States was February 26, 1979, when a small portion of the path of totality cut through the northwest reaches of the country. The next total solar eclipse visible from the United States isn’t expected to occur until 2024.
What Will We See?
Here in Eldersburg, MD the sun will be approximately 80% obscured at the peak of the eclipse. In terms of timing, the eclipse will begin for us around 1:17pm and will conclude at approximately 4:00pm. The height of the eclipse (the point where the sun is most obscured) will occur at roughly 2:42pm.
Is An Eclipse Safe To Look At?
In general, most people have been reminded since they were young that it’s not good to look directly at the sun. The bright light, UV rays, and heat of the sun can cause serious harm to your eyes, resulting in permanently damaged eyesight or even blindness. But when it comes to an eclipse, that danger is magnified – not by cosmic flares or super-powered sunlight, but because we are prone to staring at unknown phenomena, and spending more time looking at the sun results in an increased risk of exposure and potential injury.
So how should you view the eclipse if you aren’t supposed to look at the sun? Museums, schools, and libraries often have “eclipse glasses” – in fact, more than two million pairs of eclipse glasses were given to these institutions for distribution by the Star Library Network. And if you can’t get your hands on a pair of free glasses, you can visit Star Library Network’s website for a few DIY solutions that can keep your eyes safe while allowing you to observe this unique occurrence – and offer a fun craft activity to boot!