Solar Eclipse – Monday, August 21st

A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. The moon will block the sun’s light and will cast a shadow on the earth making it look like it is twilight here on earth.  The sun is 400 times wider than the moon, but also 400 times farther away, so to our eyes, the two will appear to be the same size.  On Monday, August 21st people in the United States will have a chance to see a “total” solar eclipse, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the corona, or sun’s glow, can be seen.  However, you must be in just the right spot at the right time to see a total solar eclipse.  This eclipse will start on the west coast in Oregon and travel across 14 states to the east coast in South Carolina with about a 65 mile wide path.  For those of us not in this “path of totality” you will still get a chance to see a partial eclipse, where part of the sun is blocked by the moon.  The farther north you go, the greater percent of the sun will be blocked. Denver will see 92.3%, Boulder 93.1%, Fort Collins 95.4%, and Casper, Wyoming will be 100%.  To be able to see a total solar eclipse in the exact same spot is very rare, only about once every 375 years.  The next total solar eclipse that can be seen in the United States will not occur again until 2024. Colorado will not see one until 2046.  Remember not to look up at the sun because serious damage, even blindness, can happen to unprotected eyes.  Dark glasses made specially for looking at eclipses can be purchase through Amazon and some public libraries will have them available for free.  You can also make a pinhole in a piece of paper or cardboard, hold it above another piece of paper on the ground, and view the movement of the shadow looking down without looking up at the sun.  In Denver, the moon will begin to block the sun at 10:23 am and finish 2 hours and 51 minutes later at 1:14 pm.  However, the maximum blockage will be at 11:47 am and only last for about 2 minutes.  Here’s hoping for good weather and clear skies on August 21st!

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