Let's talk about science: Plan now to see Aug. 21 total eclipse
April 20, 2017 12:00 AM
Ben Curtis/Associated Press
By Dan Malerbo, Buhl Planetarium & Observatory
The first total solar eclipse over the U.S mainland in 38 years occurs on Monday, Aug. 21. The moon’s shadow will darken skies on approximately a 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina. Because Western Pennsylvania and the tri-state area are not in the path of totality, this event will be a partial eclipse in our region. Because the moon will cover a large portion of the sun that afternoon, this eclipse will still be an amazing sight for skywatchers.
Viewing a total solar eclipse, however, is a breathtaking experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Only totality reveals the true celestial spectacle of the sun’s vibrant corona surrounding the eclipsed black disk of the sun. At the magical moment of totality, winds will pick up and temperatures will drop. Bright stars and planets will pop out of nowhere as the sky darkens. If you would like to experience the goosebumps and intense emotions of a total solar eclipse, then it’s time to think about traveling to a location along the path of totality.
There are many excellent places to view the total eclipse within 500 miles and 8 hours of Western Pennsylvania. South Carolina will be a significant destination for the eclipse. It will be the nearest location within the path of totality for at least 100 million Americans along the East Coast. The state capital of Columbia is a sizable city with a long duration of totality, about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The city of Greenville will also experience totality for 2 minutes and 11 seconds, and Awendaw, near the coast, 2 minutes and 33 seconds.
Tennessee is another prime area for viewing the eclipse. Nashville will be treated to 1 minute and 57 seconds of totality. Nearby Gallatin will get 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality, and Lebanon 2 minutes and 37 seconds.
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