Already known as the 'Great American Eclipse', the 2017 total solar eclipse is a spectacular one. Not only because the United States almost patented this eclipse, but because it runs from beginning till end through the US. Exactly perpendicular with the long axis of this country, it goes from west to east, through a staggering 10 states with maximum eclipse being visible in Kentucky at 18.25.32 Universal Time (UT). Second, it occurs high in the sky during the peak of the summer. This is as good as it can get! Expect many astronomers to broadcast this amazing event, brought to you through their own telescope.
The 114.7km wide path of totality will ensure that millions will be able to watch it. The rest of North America, including the north of South America and even small parts of western Europa and Africa will see a partial block of the solar disk. You will get a good idea of the Sun-Moon-Earth system when watching the solar disk coverage from your location and comparing this with how it looks from different locations through different live streams.
If you are a US citizen and reading this, we hope you realize the impact of this grant astronomical phenomenon. Although the majority will be able to see a partial blockage of the solar disk, from almost everywhere in the US, it is NOT comparable with experiencing totality. Totality is a phenomenon where your eyes (+ eclipse glasses!) are able to see incredible details that are normally hidden. Most intruiging is the Sun's outer environment called the 'corona' which is latin for crown. The corona is normally unvisible to the human eye, due to the extreme brightness of the Sun's glare. Also you might spot a solar flare! Solar flares are thousand-fold powerful than atomic bomb explosions, being blasted in space. Because these flares occur regularly, you should be able to watch some small versions at the edge of the solar disk. Imagine a situation where the sky shifts to deep twilight in minutes, birds go silent, it gets colder very quickly and the incredible celestial dance taking place in front of your eyes. Most people say this is the most incredible thing to see. An event that silence the most loudly people. And this all will not be visible when you are one inch outside the path of totality.
So let's say we have convinced you to travel to the path of totality. You should know some facts for an optimal experience! Imagine if you were standing right on the outer edges of the 114.7km path (North or South side), your totality will last only a fraction of a second. Going more to the middle will increase the time you are able to enjoy it, going there in an exponentially fashion with a maximum of 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds, depending on your location.
Author: Sander Klieverik
Main image: Total Solar Eclipse 2012 by Phil Hart - http://philhart.com
Map image; copyright Fred Espenak - NASA's GSFC
Image right: Solar eclipse 2009 by Aaron Favila