Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017

A total solar eclipse will occur across parts of the United States on August 21st, 2017. The path of totality will cross over the following states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The total eclipse over the U.S. will begin at 10:15am PDT in Oregon, and the totality will end at 2:48pm EDT near the city of Charleston, South Carolina. And, according to NASA, the total eclipse will take approximately one hour and forty minutes to cross the nation.

Use our Interactive Current and Future Radar when planning to observe the eclipse on August 21.

Below is an animation compiled by NASA that plots a time series and graph of where and when the eclipse will occur, particularly the path of totality. The entire nation will be able to observe the eclipse, regardless of its phase (weather permitting).

What is a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon, and earth, align in that order. This is otherwise known as a syzygy, or the alignment of celestial bodies such as planets, moons, and stars. The solar eclipse will be a lifetime experience for some, as the eclipse will begin along the Pacific coast of Oregon at sunrise. According to astronomers and eclipse observers, that is something that has rarely been seen throughout previous total solar eclipse events. 

Satellite image of the shadow of a solar eclipse occurring over the Pacific Ocean. Image credit: NASA/Himawari-8

What Causes an Eclipse?

This animation, created by NASA, shows how the sun, moon, and earth align during a solar eclipse.

Below is a schematic of the syzygy, and illustrates how the sun, moon, and earth, will perfectly align such that the moon will cast its shadow completely over the path of totality as it crosses the United States on August 21st. The next total solar eclipse will occur in the United States on April 8th, 2024.

Illustration of the alignment of the sun, moon, and earth, which will result in a total solar eclipse across the U.S. on August 21st, 2017. Credit: Harrison Sincavage

How to Safely View the Eclipse

Preparation for the solar eclipse is necessary for viewing. The entire country will be able to view the eclipse in at least a partial phase, weather permitting. No matter if you are spectating it in the path of totality, or in its partial path, you should never look at the sun without proper eye protection. 

Custom eclipse-viewing glasses can be found at several online stores, and they are necessary for observing the eclipse with the naked eye. Here is a statement issued by NASA about solar eclipse glasses.

Did You Know?   During World War I, a solar eclipse occurred across Europe on August 21st, 1914 (103 years to date of the upcoming eclipse). German astronomers set out to observe the eclipse and prove the theory of general relativity proposed by Albert Einstein. However, as opposition military forces proliferated, the leader of the expedition, Erwin Finlay-Freundlich, was held captive in Russia rendering him unable to conduct his experiments. An American astronomer William Wallace Campbell, was permitted to continue, but overcast blocked his view of the eclipse that day. Another eclipse 5 years later on May 29, 1919 gave Sir Arthur Eddington, an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician, the opportunity to definitively prove Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Map of the Solar Eclipse Path on August 21, 2017

Path of eclipse on August 21, 2017, occurring from northwest to southeast, with totality occurring in the shaded area along the path. Map Credit: NASA.
Map of the solar eclipse path of totality and its partial phases, including the percentage of the sun that will be eclipsed by the moon. Image credit: NASA

Eclipse Interest Correlates Strongly with the Path of Totality

As the eclipse date approaches, many people are searching Google for information about it.  The following visualization provided by Google Trends shows the strong correlation between Google search queries about the upcoming eclipse and the path of totality.

County-level interest about the eclipse correlates highly with the path of totality. Credit: Google Trends

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