Total Solar Eclipse: what's the big deal?

Total Solar Eclipse: what's the big deal?

(KFVS) - Monday, August 21, 2017, is a date you have likely heard a lot about.

On this date, we will experience a total solar eclipse.

So, what's so significant about a total solar eclipse?

Anyone within the 'path of totality' will experience what NASA calls one of nature's most awe-inspiring sights.

The moon will pass between the sun and the Earth for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, according to NASA. The longest period when the moon completely covers the sun is two minutes and 40 seconds and can be experienced in Carbondale, Illinois. That will happen at 1:20 p.m.

The moon will completely cover the sun. You will instead see the upper atmosphere of the sun which looks like a halo around the sun. It's known as the corona.

Who can see it? Well, according to NASA, everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa and Europe will see at least a partial total eclipse. But, a significant portion of the Heartland will experience a total solar eclipse.

The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon. It will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Here's a list of communities in the Heartland that will experience totality, according to NASA.

  • Bonne Terre, MO
  • Farmington, MO
  • Perryville, MO
  • Cape Girardeau, MO
  • Scott City, MO
  • Cobden, IL
  • Anna, IL
  • Pinckneyville, IL
  • Carbondale, IL
  • Herrin, IL
  • Metropolis, IL
  • Paducah, KY
  • Benton, KY

According to NASA, the last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979.

Now you know what a total solar eclipse is and who will see it, but you may still be wondering, 'why is everyone making such a big deal out of it?'

For the short time that the moon completely covers the sun, you will notice a lot of changes around you. Here's how an expert at NASA explains it:

The brighter stars and the planets come out. Animals change their behavior. Birds and squirrels nest. Cows return to the barn. Crickets chirp. There is a noticeable drop in both light level and air temperature. It is an eerie feeling.

And, there have only been 15 other total solar eclipses over the continental United States from 1503 to 1970, according to NASA data.

So, sit back, relax, and watch history in the making.

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