Total solar eclipse 2017: Get ready for the big event

By James Rogers

Published August 21, 2017

The clock is ticking for the eagerly anticipated ‘Great American’ eclipse that will make its way across the U.S. Monday. This is what to expect.

The eclipse, which is the first to the cross the entire country coast-to-coast in almost 100 years, is expected to take about an hour and 40 minutes to makes its journey across the U.S. The total solar eclipse will start near Lincoln City, Oregon at 1:15 p.m. EDT, and totality will end at 2:48 p.m. EDT near Charleston, S.C.

Totality will last for about two-and-a-half minutes as the moon casts its shadow on the Earth, cutting roughly 70-mile path from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic.

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Mostly clear skies beckoned along much of the route, according to the National Weather Service.

Excitement is mounting ahead of the historic event. Oregon, for example, has already experienced traffic issues as eclipse viewers flood to parts of the state. Almost 1 million people are expected to visit the state to see the eclipse, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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Elsewhere in the U.S., both inside and outside the zone of totality, people are preparing for the rare event.

Seton Hall University Assistant Professor of Physics Jose Lopez will be attending a campus viewing party.

“I'll be outside in the middle of the campus with my daughter, students, colleagues, and many members of our University and local community using Solar Telescopes and authentic eclipse glasses,” he explained, via email. “We'll of course only experience a partial solar eclipse in the NY/NJ metro area, but it's the first such event over the Continental US since 1918. Not too many folks left that experienced that last solar eclipse 99 years ago. So, like many folks I'm looking forward to this special cosmic event!”

The eclipse, however, poses potential dangers. Experts are warning eclipse watchers about the risks to vision posed by the rare event, and have highlighted the importance of effective eye protection.

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NASA has also issued a solar eclipse safety warning. “The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as ‘eclipse glasses’ or hand-held solar viewers,” it said, in its solar eclipse safety guidelines. “Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun.”

Nonetheless, doctors are bracing for a spike in E.R. visits related to the event.

Scientists across the country are also preparing to study the eclipse. A team of NASA-funded scientists, for example, will be chasing the solar eclipse across America in a pair of retrofitted WB-57F jets. Scientists will use twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the research planes to ­­­­­capture crystal–clear images of the Sun’s corona, or its outer atmosphere.

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Other projects include an effort to figure out the Sun’s exact size, and research into how the eclipse changes atmospheric conditions.

Seton Hall Professor Lopez told Fox News that science has also given us extensive knowledge of when and there eclipses will happen. “Through the gained knowledge of physics, in particular the sub-field of Newtonian or classical mechanics, we're capable of making very accurate calculations of the exact times when solar eclipses will happen and the terrestrial locations of where total solar eclipses will occur,” he said. “It impresses me immensely that [the] Universe has a repeating and cyclical nature that we've figured out.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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http://www.foxnews.com/science/2017/08/21/total-solar-eclipse-2017-get-ready-for-big-event.html