Darren Doyle, firstname.lastname@example.org, story and photos:
We're less than one month away from what is expected to be the first total solar eclipse in the continental U. S. since 1979 and the best place to view the rare event is expected to be in the greater Bowling Green area on Monday, August 21, 2017, according to Dave Clark, from NationalEclipse.com, who spoke to the Edmonson Voice a few months back and provided a map of the best projected viewing path.
"A person needs to be between the yellow lines to see the total eclipse," said Clark. "If you're north or south of the yellow lines, you'll only see a partial eclipse which is not very impressive. The closer you are to the green line in the middle, the longer the total eclipse will last, up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. So, where you are, people can get onto I-65 and go south into the path of totality. I-65 goes all the way to the centerline."
According to NationalEclipse, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and the Moon blocks the Sun for a viewer on Earth. During a total eclipse, the Moon lines up perfectly to fully obscure the Sun, resulting in "totality"; in a partial eclipse, the Moon and the Sun are not perfectly aligned and only part of the Sun is blocked; and during an annular eclipse, alignment is perfect but the Moon is too far away from the Earth to completely obscure the Sun.
Due to the peculiarities of the Moon's orbit, no more than five solar eclipses can occur in any given year, and no more than two can be total. This, in addition to the fact that a total solar eclipse is visible on the Earth's surface only along a very narrow path for just a few short minutes, makes totality one of nature's rarest events.
So what can you expect with this total eclipse? According to National Eclipse, most people who have seen a total eclipse have described it as the most spectacular natural event they have ever witnessed. It starts as the Moon slowly obscures more and more of the Sun. When just a small sliver of light remains, you might see "Baily's beads," caused by the last rays of sunlight streaming through lunar valleys. Next: the beads dissolve into one final "diamond" in the sky. And then the soft wisps of the solar corona surrounding a huge hole where the Sun used to be.
National Eclipse says you might notice a temperature drop, birds flying home to their nests, and an eerie feeling in the air. You're standing in a strange twilight, while a sunset glows on the horizon all around you. Finally, totality comes to an end as the events occur in reverse order.
So, can you still view the eclipse if the weather is bad? Experts say maybe, but cloud cover or rain will hinder the view. According to staff meteorologist Landon Hampton's wxornotbg.com, Bowling Green has a 29% of cloudiness, and Paducah has a 23% of cloudiness. This is much better than Nashville’s, where there is a 66% chance of cloudiness affecting the eclipse, as written by contributor Pierce Larkin this morning. Hampton also said these are just rough estimates being this far out from the event.
According to the viewing map, Hopkinsville is going to be the best spot in the United States to witness the eclipse as it will be viewable the longest there. Folks here in Edmonson County are still expected to be able to a partial eclipse, but will not be able to see the total eclipse. Bowling Green is the next best option if you're serious, but get there early...the entire U.S. has it's eye on Hopkinsville and the surrounding cities. This will make parking and logistics very difficult for those traveling through BG on August 21.
Finally, National Eclipse says looking at an eclipse without proper eye protection can be very harmful. "Since looking directly at the Sun, even during an eclipse, can cause permanent eye damage or even blindness, special eclipse safety glasses or viewers must always be used (sunglasses are not safe)," said a statement from the site. "The small amount of light emitted during even a 99.9 percent solar eclipse is still dangerous. The only time it's safe to look at a total eclipse without proper eye protection is during the brief period of "totality" when the Sun is 100 percent blocked by the Moon. If you're not located in the path of totality, there is never a time when it's safe to look with unprotected eyes. Attempting to view an eclipse using binoculars, telescopes, cameras, or other devices that don't have their own special front-mounted solar filters is extremely hazardous."
For more information about purchasing safety glasses and gear, you can check out products from National Eclipse by clicking here.
Are you making plans to view the solar eclipse? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.