The approaching solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, promises to be a monumental, once-in-a-lifetime, astronomical event of gargantuan and historical significance. Growing up I can remember witnessing a few partial solar eclipses here and there, but never a complete solar eclipse. Because I happen to live in the northeast side of Kansas City, I along with anyone else living in the path of totality will be privileged to experience a total solar eclipse. This is an absolutely amazing and thrilling situation to behold.
Scientifically, the total solar eclipse presents tremendous opportunities for research and data collection. You have to remember that this is the first total solar eclipse to traverse the nation in 99 years. This will truly be the event of a lifetime for astronomers and other scientists. They of course will be diligently monitoring the entire event from multiple observation points on the ground and in the air.
If you plan to be in or happen to already live in the path of totality, a handy tool is available to confirm individual locations. In addition to confirming that an address is in the totality path, it also calculates the duration for the full eclipse at that specific location. Due to mountain and valley variations on the moon surface, the northern and southern edges of the totality path can vary by as much as a half mile. Therefore, if location-wise you happen to be in that predicament, you will want to factor in some additional distance for your target location just to be sure that you don’t miss it.
As long as the skies remain clear, we should be in good shape for excellent viewing. The two big factors in our favor are the time and date of the eclipse. Due to the time of the eclipse, it means the sun is positioned roughly overheard for easier viewing as opposed to close to the horizon. The date being in middle August means we have about a 95% probability of completely clear skies that day.
If you intend to watch any part of the eclipse, remember to be well prepared with special-purpose solar filters such as “eclipse glasses.” Be certain that the viewing glasses are compliant with the international safety standard ISO 12312-2.
Watch, experience, and enjoy!