We are less than one year away from one of nature’s most fascinating occurrences. On Sept. 27, over 60 people came to Hall of Letters at the University of Redlands to learn all about it.
Scientists and enthusiasts alike are marking their calendars for Aug. 21, 2017, for what is being dubbed the “Great American Eclipse”. It will be the first total solar eclipse to occur in the contiguous United States since 1979. Dr. Tyler Nordgren, a physics and astronomy professor at the university, presented a lecture about the history of solar eclipses and what to expect when the stars (or in this case, the moon) align with the sun about 11 months from now.
Solar eclipses are typically portrayed as a rare event, however that’s actually not the case. A total solar eclipse occurs somewhere on Earth around once every 18 months. Unfortunately, the United States has not experienced such an event for almost 26 years; Hawaii was the lone state to see the eclipse on July 11, 1991. This time, the total eclipse will be seen exclusively in the United States, whereas partial coverage of the sun will be visible in South America, Europe and Asia.
Residents in every state will be able to see a partial eclipse from wherever they are. A narrow path that runs from the Northwest to the Southeast will be the optimal place to look into the skies, as that’s where the full coverage will occur.
(Photo obtained from greatamericaneclipse.com)
In all, the total eclipse will be visible from 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North and South Carolina. According to Nordgren, the extended forecasts for Aug. 2017 show that Oregon is the state slated to have the clearest skies on that day, giving all who go the best view of the eclipse. While many hotels in the path of totality are already fully reserved for that day, he said that there are still many places outside of the region to look into, claiming that when an event like this occurs, a little drive would be absolutely worth it.
Jose Torres, a junior at the university who is minoring in Astronomy, is planning on embarking on the drive from his hometown in Palo Alto, California, to Oregon in order to witness the event.
“This eclipse is going to be monumental,” Torres said. “I think it could be one of the most important events in my lifetime so far.”
The next solar eclipse in the United States won’t occur until 2024, when the path of totality will move from Southwest to Northeast. Select areas of Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky will have the privilege of being in the path of both eclipses. There is sure to be debate around the country about where to watch the eclipse, with many people in the path of totality claiming that their state is the most visible location. But no matter what, the eclipse will be an exhilarating and rewarding experience for all who make the journey. Visit http://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/ for more information regarding the upcoming eclipse.