In 2017, many Americans can expect to see a very rare phenomenon right from their porches. On Aug. 21, the Great American Total Solar Eclipse will be visible in several states, including Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois.
Those who don't live along the path of totality where the eclipse will be perfectly visible are advised to go on a trip as such events are very rare.
Astonishing Total Solar Eclipse
After 99 years, a total solar eclipse will be visible to inhabitants living on a 70-mile stretch of land that connects Oregon to South Carolina. Although a solar eclipse was also visible from the States in 1979, it's been almost a century since such an event could be seen from one coast to the other. Total solar eclipses that can be easily seen by humans are quite rare.
Although the moon is at the right distance from Earth in order to cover the sun, the angle of its positioning means that it can do so on very rare occasions. Most eclipses are partial as a result, thus less spectacular. Moreover, even if total solar eclipses do occur, it is very unlikely for the area where it can be observed to be inhabited as most of our planet is covered by water.
As a result, the event next year is very exciting. Even people who do not live in the particular areas where the eclipse will be visible are strongly encouraged to go see it. For most of them, it would be less than a day of driving for an event of a lifetime. The invitation is open to more than 200 million people.
"If you are in that path of totality, you are seeing the main event, but if you are off to the side - even where the sun is 99 percent covered by the moon - it is like going up to the ticket booth of a baseball or football stadium but not going inside," noted Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College in Massachusetts.
Very Rare Phenomenon
However, anyone wanting to see the eclipse is strongly advised to wear proper eye protection or use other methods than looking directly at the sun.
Scientists are also very excited about the event. Solar eclipses are among the few occasions when they can study the sun's corona, which has temperatures reaching 1 million degrees Celsius, while the rest of the sun is no hotter than 6,000 degrees Celsius. Why this is so has not been ascertained and the eclipse may provide researchers with more data.