On Monday 21, 2017, there is going to be a total solar eclipse which will be visible across a narrow band of the mainland in the US - in its totality. It is going to happen in North America, almost after a century, since the previous such event.
In this context, the enthusiasm that has already been generated, both among the lovers of astronomy and laypeople, is fully understandable. It is already dubbed, the Great American Eclipse - for a reason.
A solar eclipse takes place when the Moon happens to be between the Earth and the Sun, while blocking the sun rays reaching the Earth in a certain region of the Earth. Over this region, both penumbra and umbra of the shadow of the Moon slowly moves, stopping light from the Sun reaching the same. As a result those who live in the region experience a solar eclipse.
Those who fall under umbra, will not see the Sun at all for a short period of time. They witness the total solar eclipse - a relatively rare phenomenon in a particular region of the Earth. Those who are in the penumbra region experience a partial eclipse.
Although, the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun frequently, the perfect alignment of the three celestial bodies is rare, as their corresponding orbits do not coincide frequently, which accounts for the rarity of the event.
On August 21, over 12 million Americans, in 14 states, will witness the full spectacle: a sudden, total darkness that will last for about 2 minutes - and in the middle of broad daylight; the partial eclipse will last for about 100 minutes.
The timings for the full eclipse in various states are as follows:
|Location||Full Eclipse Time|
|Salem, Oregon||10:18 PDT|
|Idaho Falls, Idhao||11:33 MDT|
|Hopkinsville, Kentucky||1:25pm CDT|
|Nashville, Tennessee||1:28pm CDT|
As the Sun 'goes down', there will be a corresponding reaction from animals, especially birds.
Despite living in the 21st century, the superstition associated with the phenomenon shows no sign of abating, even in the West. It is highly unlikely that the Great American Eclipse is going to bring about the watershed moment, as far as the irrational beliefs are concerned.
For instance, some may interpret the event as bad omen, especially at a time, when North Korea and the US are at loggerheads over the nuclear programme of the former.
It's goes without saying that a solar eclipse should not be observed with the naked eye; nor should you use a pair of binoculars or a telescope for the same.A sudden exposure to intense light can damage the retina of the eye.
There are relatively-cheap, special glasses are available for the purpose.
If you don't want to spend any money, you can use either a basin of water or pinhole cameraas an impoverished device for the purpose.