Bonnie Tyler taught us what it’s like to have a Total Eclipse of the Heart, but on Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to a total eclipse of the sun. This total solar eclipse will darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles wide. People who live around this “path of totality” for the big event are in for an extraordinary experience. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights: a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s atmosphere, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. All observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse; the total phase of this solar eclipse will not be fully visible in Tampa at Laser Locators, but it can be observed as a partial solar eclipse and special glasses will be necessary!
Looking directly at the sun is always unsafe and protection should always be worn, but during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, it can be seen from windows indoors.
Solar Eclipse Glasses
“However, 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. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are NOT safe for looking at the sun; they transmit too much sunlight. The following four companies sell eclipse glasses that meet the international standard (ISO 12312-2) recommended by NASA, the AAS, and other scientific organizations: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, Lunt Solar Systems, and TSE 17.”- Source: NASA.gov.
During this jaw-dropping total solar eclipse, the disk of the moon blocks out the last bit of light from the sun, and the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible. The area inside the moon’s shadow is covered in darkness, which is a very different from our afternoon shower darkness and an odd feeling to experience in the middle of the day. Just before and just after totality, observers can see this cloak of darkness moving toward them across the landscape, and then moving away.
To make sure you don’t miss this event and to figure out the exact timing of the total solar eclipse and its duration both depend on where you are inside the path of totality. At most, the moon will completely cover the disk of the sun for 2 minutes and 40 seconds, but being in Tampa, Florida and out of the path of totality, our time to view will decrease. People standing at the very edge of the path may observe totality for only a few seconds so make sure you don’t miss it! If for whatever reason you can’t make it out to see this phenomenon, the next time you can see something remotely similar will be in 2024. In 2024, a total solar eclipse will darken the skies above Mexico and Texas, up through the Midwest and northeastern U.S. So Tampa, make sure you are prepared and ready to miss this spectacular almost once in a lifetime event!