You know about the big upcoming solar eclipse happening on Monday, August 21 (dubbed “the Great American Eclipse”) that will span the US? Everyone across the United States will be able to see the sun disappear behind the moon in some form. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon appears to completely cover the sun in sky. It’s a big deal in science circles, for astrology, for some religions, and just for reading about cool stuff that isn’t terrible political news.
Total eclipses are pretty infrequent and a lot can’t be seen in populated areas. That last time we saw an eclipse like this was in 1979 in the Pacific Northwest! This time around, only those within the epically-named “path of totality,” from Oregon to South Carolina, will be able to witness the eclipse in full. But most of us will be able to see some part of it. That’s where this tool comes in…
We found a killer tool over on Vox that will estimate how much of the eclipse you’ll see, whether it’s a full look or just a partial.
So from my ZIP code, I’ll be able to see a partial eclipse at 1:19pm which will see the moon obscuring 86.9% of the sun. Not too shabby!
Click here to check your own ZIP!
BIG TIME NOTE: Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage including blindness. Don’t do it. Sunglasses alone are not enough. You’ll need special eclipse glasses that are ISO 12312-2. You can see a full list of reputable vendors listed here certified by the AAS. There are a lot of fakes, so make sure you’re getting them from a reputable source listed there.
Check to see if your local town or city is holding any viewing events, too. Try not to miss this one. The next Great American Eclipse won’t come around until April 2024.
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In the US, STARnet has partnered with libraries to host eclipse events AND to distribute free eclipse glasses! Here’s a map of participating libraries, but consider calling ahead to see if they have any eclipse glasses available!