The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017: What, When, How?
Just yesterday at my local supermarket checkout line, I was innocently asked why I needed to pick up a pair of solar eclipse glasses. "Um, because I could go blind," I responded. "You should get a pair, too."
You see, I happen to live on the South Carolina coast, which is right on the path of totality and the last stop of the Great American Eclipse of 2017 (it's unofficial nickname). Many people are getting excited for this special event, and it's clear that some of you have pertinent questions. I'm here to help.
What's happening exactly?
On Monday, Aug. 21, the U.S. will be treated to a celestial spectacle. Those lucky enough to be on the "path of totality"—a 70-mile wide stretch that extends from Oregon to South Carolina—will get to see the sun's disk completely obscured by the moon (weather permitting, of course).
Observers will also get the rare opportunity to look directly at the solar corona, the radiant, outermost part of the sun's atmosphere. NASA says this is the first total eclipse to cross from coast-to-coast since 1918.
The path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. NASA
Does this mean it go dark?
If you are in an area with a high percentage of obscuration, yes, you will be in near darkness. But it only lasts a few minutes. Those not near the path of totality will see sunlight coming through.
Where and when will it happen?
Lincoln Beach, Oregon gets to see the eclipse begin around 9:05 a.m. PDT. It then crosses through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North and South Carolina. It ends near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT.
Check out this chart for exact details:
But I don't live on the path of totality. Can I still see it?
Very likely! Even if you're not on the path of totality, anyone living in North America can see at least a partial solar eclipse, where it will look like the moon took a chunk out of the sun. If you don't live in the U.S., the northern parts of South America and areas of Europe and Africa will also see a partial eclipse.
Do I really need solar eclipse glasses?
Yes. You could severely damage your eyes if you look directly at the sun. Regular sunglasses, binoculars and camera lenses will not do. You need a pair certified by the ISO 12312-2 international standard that have a special-purpose safe solar filter that blocks solar UV and infrared radiation. Due to reports of counterfeit glasses flooding the market, you'll want check on this Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page if your viewers comply.
Can I watch the eclipse if I don't have special glasses?
You can remove your glasses or look at the sun with the naked eye only when the sun is totally blocked by the moon.
Don't be tempted to look during any other point—even a tiny sliver of the crescent sun can burn your eyeballs. As Ralph Chou, professor emeritus at the School of Optometry & Vision Science at the University of Waterloo in Canada, told Space.com, "I have seen instances where the patient has eventually shown up with crescents burned into the back of the eye, and you can almost tell exactly when they looked."
If you can't get ahold of a pair of eclipse glasses, you can create simple pinhole projectors, a fun project for kids and adults alike. Also NASA will host a live stream which will play on NASA TV, YouTube and other TV stations.
Will traffic be bad?
It's likely. About 220 million Americans are within an hour's drive to states in the path of totality. Some cities are preparing for Superbowl-like conditions with expected congestion and travel delays.
Can I bring my dog to watch the eclipse?
Sure. Your dog, and your cat for that matter, instinctively know not to look directly at the sun and will probably ignore the event, animal experts say.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ketura Persellin
Global consumption of beef, lamb and goat is expected to rise by almost 90 percent between 2010 and 2050. But that doesn't mean you need to eat more meat. In fact, recent news from Washington gives you even less confidence in your meat: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of line workers.
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.