Astronomy

Total Solar Eclipse Aligns for Mainland Aug. 21

August 9, 2017, 9:00 AM HST
* Updated August 17, 11:57 AM
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NASA photo., May 2013.

A total solar eclipse will be visible on the mainland on Aug. 21, 2017.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the Sun which reveals the Sun’s outer atmosphere—the corona. This is a rare event for those in the United States.

This is a rare event for those in the United States, according to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

This event is being called “The Great American Eclipse,” as it will pass across the center of the continental U.S.

Cities along the path of totality include Salem, Oregon; Nashville Tennessee; and both Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina.

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The total solar eclipse will not be seen in the Hawaiian Islands. A partial solar eclipse will be visible right at dawn.

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Image: Chris Tinker from Kona, March 2016.

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The sun will rise in Honolulu at 6:20 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 21 in partial eclipse, with about one-third of the sun’s disk blocked by the moon.

For the next hour, viewers using safe viewing devices (and a clear eastern horizon—the sun will still be low in the east, in this hour after dawn) will see the moon slowly uncover the sun.

By 7:25 a.m. in Honolulu the eclipse will be over.

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As this eclipse ends at 7:25 HST on Aug. 21 in the islands, it will be getting underway on the North American continent as the shadow of the moon races across the planet.

Eclipse fans in Hawai‘i must wait until 2106 for a total eclipse over our islands.

The last total solar eclipse visible in the continental US occurred in 1979 and the next one will not take place until 2024. The path of totality will begin in the Pacific Ocean and travel through the center of the United States.

The total eclipse will be visible in parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina before ending in the Atlantic Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible in most of North America and parts of northern South America.

It is never safe to view a partial solar eclipse directly; the safe viewing glasses carried by Bishop Museum’s Shop Pacifica and other venues are a good means of viewing solar eclipses.

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