A week from today, the first total solar eclipse across the United States in nearly 40 years will occur, with partial darkness falling over Southern California, where UC Riverside researchers will be offering residents an opportunity to watch through solar-filtered telescopes.
The UCR Department of Physics & Astronomy will be hosting the eclipse viewing party adjacent to the campus Bell Tower, beginning about 10 a.m. next Monday.
Using the filtered telescopes, members of the community will be able to watch as the moon blocks the sun over a nearly two-hour span, marking the beginning of a new moon phase that situates the small planet at the right angle and orbital plane to create what the American Astronomical Society calls a "cosmic coincidence,” yielding a total eclipse viewable only on the North American continent.
According to scientists, Southern California will be in the penumbra, with roughly 60 percent of the sun in shade. However, the corona will be entirely hidden behind the moon beginning about 10 a.m. as viewed from the coast of Oregon. From there, totality will continue for the next 90 minutes, cutting across the nation’s midsection.
According to NASA, only the coronal rim will be discernable as the eclipse progresses, with darkness falling in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas. The last best spot to see remnants of the lunar shadow will be Charleston, South Carolina, at 4 p.m. eastern time, NASA said.
The longest point of totality will be roughly three minutes in Carbondale, Illinois, according to the space agency’s eclipse website, https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/.
According to the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, some aviators plan to chase the path of the total eclipse across multiple states. The last total solar eclipse over the contiguous U.S. was visible in the northwest tier of the country in February 1979. After Aug. 21, the next one will happen in April 2024, according to NASA. That eclipse, however, will only be viewable in the central and eastern United States.
Scientists urged observers to exercise caution and use appropriate viewing devices during next week’s eclipse to avoid eye damage.