On Aug. 21, there will be a total eclipse of the sun. While everyone in the United States will experience a partial eclipse, if you’re living in the right state, for two full minutes, the moon will block the sun. Check this website to find out how much of the eclipse you’ll be able to see and at what time.
So what factors come in to play for a solar eclipse?
During the new moon cycle, the dark side of the moon is directly facing the earth and the moon’s orbit with the earth’s need to match. If they didn’t we’d have a solar eclipse every time there was a new moon. The moon’s orbit around earth is an oval not a circle, so that means the moon is sometimes closer to the sun. For a complete solar eclipse the moon must be closest to the earth. There are times when the moon is at it’s farthest distance from earth and an eclipse will occur leaving a “ring of fire.” Learn more about solar eclipses.
As much as you want to go out and stare at the sun, you can burn your retina doing that, so please use the various devices recommended by NASA.
Start checking now to see where in your community there are good viewing opportunities. Many libraries have free viewing glasses, which they are distributing.
Interestingly, different cultures have differing views about an eclipse. Many American Indians view the sun and moon as cultural deities. The Navajo believe the sun dies and is reborn. The Havasupai tell their children not to look at the moon for too long as it has powerful energy and can bring bad dreams. In fact, a solar eclipse where the sun is blocked could be viewed as a bad omen. The Hopis do not view it as taboo, instead they refer to it as one piggybacking off the other.
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