5 things to know about the USA’s Total Solar Eclipse

Get clued-up before August 21, 2017 with these know-it-all facts

1 – The West is the best
Although the Line of Totality goes through 10 US states and includes the likes of Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and the Carolinas, you should head West if you want to maximise your chances. Oregon has the best chances of clear skies (though avoid its cloudy coast), with Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska not far behind.

2 – August’s eclipse is the first in the USA since 1979
That one happened in the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Greenland, with the central shadow of the moon passing through the US states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec.


3 – Most of the USA will be losers
Is a Partial Eclipse interesting? Yes, but only to astronomers. The difference between a 99% partial eclipse and a Total Solar Eclipse is, as many eclipse-chasers say, like the difference between a peck on the cheek and, well, you can guess the rest. So travel. If you’re within a few hours of the Line of Totality, drive, hitch, cycle, walk … whatever. Just get there for your two minutes with Totality.

4 – The Moon’s shadow will move twice as fast as sound
Moving at a stunning 1,579 miles per hour, the Moon’s shadow will cross the USA in exactly 93 minutes. That’s just over twice the speed of sound. If you have a big sky view, you may be able to see the V-shaped Moon-shadow.

5 – You can download a free photo of the eclipse from NASA
So there’s really no need to try to emulate the experts when you’re watching an eclipse, especially if it’s your first one. Many, many people will have a mess of cameras and spend the precious moments of Totality operating shutters and fiddling with phones. Many, many people will regret it for the rest of their lives. Choose one from NASA instead.

Photo credit: Travel Wyoming