On August 21st, North Americans will have the opportunity to experience a rare total solar eclipse in which its nationwide band of totality will stretch all the way from Oregon located on the west coast to North and South Carolina in the east of the country. While partial eclipses are fairly common, the last total solar eclipse to occur in North America dates all the way back to June 8, 1918, when its band extended from Washington to Florida.
The Great American Eclipse, as it is now known, will take around 90 minutes to cross North America, but last for around two and a half minutes in each of the given areas it can be seen. In total, it will cross fourteen states starting in Oregon at 9:05am PDT, before reaching South Carolina at around 2:48pm EDT. During that time, the 70 miles (113 km) wide band of darkened sky, called the “path of totality”, will also be seen across Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. Nevertheless, the whole of the continental U.S. and other nearby areas will be able to view at least a partial solar eclipse, and should still observe the same precautions while doing so by using special-purpose eye filters.
An eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth casting a shadow upon the Earth, with its darkest part (umbra) resulting in a total eclipse, while the portion of the light source obscured (penumbra) will be seen as a partial eclipse. The eclipse will also move from west to east, as this is the direction that the shadow of the Moon will be moving.
Here are some of the totality’s beginning and end times from some of the major locations in the US:
Madras, OR: 10:19-10:21 a.m. PDT
Idaho Falls, ID: 11:33-11:34 a.m. MDT
MDT Casper, WY: 11:42-11:45 a.m. MDT
Lincoln, NE: 01:02-01:04 p.m. CDT
Jefferson City, MO: 01:13-01:15 p.m. CDT
Carbondale, IL: 01:20-01:22 p.m. CDT
Paducah, KY: 01:22-01:24 p.m. CDT
Nashville, TN: 01:27-01:29 p.m. CDT
Clayton, GA: 02:35-02:38 p.m. EDT
Columbia, SC: 02:41-02:44 p.m. EDT
In the meantime, the celestial phenomenon will only be seen as a partial eclipse from northwestern Europe in the evening towards sunset, with Iceland, Ireland and Scotland able to see it from beginning to end. For people in the UK, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal, however, the Sun will set before the eclipse is completed.