A total solar eclipse, huh? How about that. It sounds cool, until you remember all the times you’ve tried to stay up late and view something in the sky when either:
A) You fall asleep before it happens, or
B) You watch and are completely disappointed when whatever whacky, totally rare sight is barely visible in your neck of the woods
But this Total Solar Eclipse seems to be just a little different. There’s been a lot of media hype around it
amidst the actual human sh*tstorm that is happening in politics right now, but it went over my head because it’s super confusing, so after some brief online research (shoutout to the OG, Wikipedia), here’s the quick recap or as I like to call it, the dummy’s version:
Who: The TOTAL Solar Eclipse
What: The moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, which will then obscure the image of the sun on to us viewers on Earth. (AKA, nighttime during the daytime?)
When: August 21, approximately 12-4 pm EDT
I mean those are the mega-basics, but before you RSVP to this hot happenin’ event, there’s some other things you need to know.
You can’t see it from everywhere
There’s something called, “the path of totality” which shows a belt across the continental U.S. where the total solar eclipse will be visible during its short little life. In each state, the eclipse will only be able to be viewed for like, a minute or two. This belt goes all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, and depending on the weather and the exact pinpoint location you’ll be at, the views will be different.
Turns out people who are into this are really into it and will be willing to watch the weather so closely that they’re gonna pick up all their stuff and drive around to move to a better viewing point along the way. It’s become something of a tourist trap where hotel prices, eclipse-related paraphernalia and top viewing destinations are charging a ridiculous amount to give people a primetime seat to see it all.
Here’s a snapshot of the info you’d need to pick out a certain spot, thanks to a very in-depth website created by who I imagine to be a cohort of real deal earthly nerds. Reading one snippet makes my head spin! (I still don’t know what totality actually means.)
Columbia, South Carolina
Don’t look at it! (Without protection)
Even though the moon is covering the sun, those who are viewing the solar eclipse will be exposed to the sun’s rays if they are to look directly at this mega-spectacle. Eclipse glasses, which are not just recommended but basically required, block 99.99 percent of the sun’s rays even though they look like your run of the mill cardboard pair of 3-D goggles from the IMAX theater.
And since it’s so damn dangerous to look at the sun without this type of protection, there are a bunch of internet losers out there trying to scam people into buying counterfeit pairs. Smart!
So if you purchase a pair, be sure to inspect them carefully and do your research to make sure the glasses are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for these type of products. It looks like most pairs are running between $5-6, but Warby Parker is giving them away in its stores fo’ free.
PS: Same goes for using your smartphone if you take an everlasting picture of this minute-long moment. Make sure your lens is covered by a similar filter as what’s protecting your eyes. Also, keep the flash off! I speak for all of us when I say we can’t wait for all of the sh*tty, low-quality pictures that’ll flood social media on the 21st.
This piece is truly important, so check out somewhere reliable like NASA for the full safety instructions.
NASA is making sure we can all see it via live stream
Phew, so when those iPhone pictures on your Facebook feed from your cousin in the midwest don’t do justice, hop on to one of NASA’s many viewing platforms for a live stream event from 12-4pm. Here’s the full list of equipment these big dogs are rolling out to make sure there’s the best coverage possible. Stefon is ALL about this for sure.
12 live locations
57 high altitude balloons
It’s history, for sure
Part of 14 U.S. states will go completely dark for two minutes. That is pretty wild, right? It is the first total solar eclipse that can be seen from coast to coast and is only happening right here in America! THIS is what’s making America great again because the people are hyped and ready to use this as an excuse to forget about how pretty much everything else sucks. Happenin’ for the first time in a long time and won’t come around again for as long as we’re all around.
I bet this is going to be pretty sweet if you’ve made the arrangements to be in a spot where the total solar eclipse is going to be visible. You have to be ready to seize the two-minute moment and take it all in. So, do your research, buy your goggles, put your phone away and go chase that eclipse, baby! Unfortunately, for us in upstate New York, I think we’ll have more experiences as the one mentioned in the beginning of the post –a lot of hype without the full visual reward.
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