The United States is just a few weeks away from witnessing a solar eclipse. The event will take place Monday, Aug. 21 and block out the sun from Oregon to South Carolina.
The eclipse will be visible across all the lower 48 states.
The last contiguous eclipse, meaning the total eclipse moved across states that border each other, was Feb. 26, 1979. After Aug. 21, this type of event won’t happen again until Oct. 14, 2023, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. That eclipse will stretch from Northern California to Florida.
Since this month's eclipse moves from coast to coast, most of America will witness a partial or total eclipse, making this event truly special. Depending on where an observer lives will determine if a total or partial eclipse is visible. There are four types of solar eclipse.
Total eclipse, when the moon completely covers the sun. The only the outer most layer of the sun’s atmosphere is visible.
A partial eclipse occurs when the moon is off center as it passes over the sun. It covers only a segment of the sun.
An annular eclipse, this occurs when the moon completely covers the sun. Due to the moon’s orbit, its distance can vary from the earth. If is further away the moon can appear smaller in size and not block out as much of the sun as a total eclipse.
A hybrid eclipse is when an eclipse begins as a total eclipse but ends as an annular eclipse.
The eclipse will produce two types of shadows, an umbra and penumbra. The umbra is small in diameter and the area it moves over is where the total eclipse can be seen. The penumbra covers a larger area and the shadow is where a partial eclipse is visible.
Parts of the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, will become visible around the moon. NASA recommends the use of solar filter eclipse glasses or pin-hole projectors if you wish to watch the partial eclipse. NASA has cautioned about unsafe solar eclipse glasses being distributed to the public.
For most viewers, the total eclipse will last about two minutes but NASA has a plan to follow the eclipse as it moves using WB-57F jet planes. A telescope called Caspi will be mounted to the nose of the plane and follow the shadow for seven minutes gathering data.
“Caspi will capture the clearest images of the Sun’s outer atmosphere — the corona — to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how temperature varies across the planet’s surface,” according to the statement.
NASA showed when and where the eclipse is happening.
Everyone in North America will be able to view this eclipse, weather permitting but not everyone will see a total eclipse. Here is our guide on what you can expect to see if you live near these major cities.
Anchorage, Alaska – If you live near Anchorage, you will see a partial eclipse that will reach its peak at 9:16 a.m. AKDT. The shadow will move in a diagonal line along the bottom of the sphere. To view the total eclipse, it will require traveling to the lower 48. The closest location would be Pacific City, Oregon roughly a two-day trip by car.
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – If you live in Hawaii, the eclipse will not be visible to you as it will only travel across the North American continent. The closest place for you to view the total eclipse would be Depoe, Bay, Oregon.
Portland, Oregon – You will see a partial solar eclipse. When looking at the sun the eclipse will enter on the top right portion of the sun and exit through the lower left corner. The eclipse will peak at 10:18 a.m. PDT and cover most of the sphere. To view the total eclipse, you will need to travel about an hour to McMinnville, Oregon.
San Diego, California –If you live here, you will see a partial solar eclipse. The eclipse will enter at the top of the sun and slide along the left side rolling left slightly before exiting out the bottom left portion of the sphere. The eclipse will peak for you at 10:23 a.m. PDT. If you want to view the total eclipse, you’ll have to travel a significant distance to Corvallis, Oregon. That’s roughly a 15-hour trip by car.
El Paso, Texas - If you live in El Paso, the eclipse will reach its peak at 11:46 a.m. MDT. The eclipse will be partial and move in from the top left of the sun out through the left side at a right angle. If you would like to view the total eclipse, the closest place would be North Platte, Nebraska, roughly a 12-hour drive.
Denver, Colorado – If you live in Denver you will witness a partial eclipse that will cover most of the sun. The eclipse will begin in the upper right portion of the sphere and move diagonally left, exiting through the bottom right most section of the orb. Peak eclipse will occur and 11:47 a.m. MDT. To witness the total eclipse, travel to Mitchell, Nebraska, a little more than three-hour car ride away.
St. Louis, Missouri – If you live in St. Louis you will be close to the total eclipse. The solar event will peak at 1:18 p.m. CDT in your area. The shadow will move in the shape of a backward check mark. It will enter from the upper right portion of the sun and move left covering the entirety of the orb before exiting left. If you wish to view the total eclipse you should travel about an hour south to St. Clair or Sullivan Missouri.
Chicago, Illinois – Chicago will only see a partial eclipse. The shadow will move in a “U” shape from the upper right portion of the sun before sweeping down and back up. Peak eclipse will occur at 1:19 p.m. To view the total eclipse, you will have to travel about five hours south to St. Clair, Missouri.
New Orleans, Louisiana - In New Orleans, you will see a partial solar eclipse that will reach its peak at 1:29 p.m. CDT. The eclipse will move in a slight “V” shape, entering from the top right part of the sun. The shadow will descend to cover two-thirds of the sphere before exiting up and left. If you wish to view the total eclipse, your best bet is to travel approximately eight hours’ northeast to Nashville, Tennessee.
Washington, District of Columbia – The nation’s capital will witness a partial eclipse that will reach its peak at 2:42 p.m. EDT. The shadow will move across the sun from right to left and cover a little more than two-thirds of the sphere. To view the total eclipse, you would need to travel south about six hours to Georgetown or Sumter, South Carolina.
New York City, New York- In New York the eclipse will reach its peak at 2:44 p.m. EDT. The path of the shadow will be similar to Washington D.C. and cover two-thirds of the orb. To view the total eclipse, you would need to travel south approximately 10 hours to Sumter, South Carolina.
Boston, Massachusetts- The peak of the eclipse will reach Boston at 2:46 p.m. EDT. The shadow will move in a similar trajectory to New York and Washington D.C. and only cover about 60 percent of the sun’s surface. To view the total eclipse, you would need to travel south roughly 13 hours to Georgetown, South Carolina.
Miami, Florida – Miami will see a partial eclipse that will sweep from the upper right corner of the sun along the outer edges before exiting left. The eclipse will reach its peak in your area at 2:58 p.m. EDT. If you wish to see the full eclipse you will have to drive about eight hours north to Charleston, South Carolina.
This couple has spent decades preparing for the eclipse.
Editor’s Note: Eclipse facts used in this story were provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Google Maps.