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August 21, 2017
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Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017


Pray for clear skies on August 21st for the first total eclipse seen the United States since 1979. Here in Southern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin it won't be a total eclipse, but will be a deep partial eclipse that begins at 11:43am and continues until 2:29pm. At the eclipse maximum at 1:06pm 83% of the sun will be obscured by the moon. Never stare at the sun directly during a partial eclipse or at any other time. You can easily permanently damage your eyes. You can safely view the partial eclipse with specially filtered eclipse glasses to protect your eyes. You'll find eclipse glasses for sale all across the internet when you Google "solar eclipse glasses". I've seen them for sale as low as about two dollars. I would get several pairs as soon as you can, because I know they will be a lot harder to get as we get close to August 21st.

Another way to view the partial eclipse safely is to hold a piece of white cardboard with a pencil diameter hole in it over another piece of stiff white cardboard. The best and safest way to aim the piece with the hole at the blank card is to stand with your back to the sun and hold the pinhole piece back toward the sun. Use the shadow of the cardboard to aim it over the blank cardboard and you should be able to see the eclipse with absolutely no danger. It really works!

If there's any chance for you to travel to path of totality, be there! The 60 to 70 mile-wide strip of the country with totality runs from Northern Oregon to South Carolina. It's so worth the trip! I've seen a total solar eclipse before, and as hard as I try it's impossible to describe in words. The temperature drops, stars come out, and you can see solar flares shooting out from the edge of the sun and corona, the sun's outer atmosphere. During totality is the only time you can view the eclipse without eye protection. Totality in most of the band lasts less than two minutes. My advice is to stop viewing the totality directly and use special eclipse glasses or other protection a good thirty seconds before totality ends. Safety first!

If you do plan to travel into the path of totality be sure to make your choice of destination as fluid as possible. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast within a few days of August 21st. It might be hard to find lodging within the eclipse band, but since totality is in the midday hours you can wake up early and drive into the band. There's a great app that can help you with the best place for you travel. It's Eclipse One of the great tools I use to help predict cloud cover for any given place is Clear Sky Clock.

Again, it is so worth the journey! You'll thank me later!