Historic solar eclipse less than one month away
The United States will experience a rare and historic celestial event Monday, Aug. 21, when a total solar eclipse crosses the nation. Beginning in Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at 11:15 a.m. MT/12:15 p.m. CT and ending about an hour and a half later near Charleston, South Carolina, at 12:48 p.m. MT/1:48 p.m. CT, the total eclipse will follow a 70-mile-wide course, the path of totality, from coast to coast.
Wauneta is not far at all from the path of totality, but unless residents travel, they will see only a partial eclipse. Oshkosh, is just outside the path, while North Platte, is within it. Many communities that are on the center of the path are hosting special events, including Alliance, Tryon, Stapleton and Grand Island. Along that center line, the total eclipse will last for about two and a half minutes. The further a location is from the center of the path, the shorter its viewing will be.
State and national parks all along the path have events planned to celebrate and view the phenomenon across the nation. For information on such opportunities in Nebraska, visit http://outdoornebraska.gov/eclipse/. National park information can be found at www.nps.gov.
The last total eclipse visible from the contiguous United States was nearly four decades ago. February 26, 1979, one was visible in five states in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, there are different kinds of eclipses, including partial and annular solar eclipses, as well as lunar eclipses. Solar eclipses happen more often, but are visible in only a small area. The less frequent lunar eclipses, however, are visible from over half the earth.
All of North America will—weather permitting—experience at least a partial eclipse Aug. 21, but the path of totality is limited to the United States, which hasn’t happened since 1778.
The last total eclipse that crossed the entire continent was June 8, 1918. This year’s total eclipse will pass through 14 states total: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North and South Carolina.
While the 70-mile-wide path of totality is relatively narrow, about 12.2 million people live within the area. About two-thirds of the U.S. population live within one day’s drive of the path, and many are planning to make the trek. It’s no wonder, since the next time a total solar eclipse will be visible in the United States will be April 8, 2024, and it won’t be nearly as close to Wauneta.
Alex Young, a solar scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center said, “If you have an opportunity to see this—take it. You will not be disappointed.”
For those who will not be in the path of totality, NASA will air live video of the eclipse, along with coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation at https://www.nasa.gov/eclipselive. Images taken from 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station will offer several unique vantage points.
Historically, eclipses have offered scientists great opportunities for research, including the discovery of helium and confirmation of general relativity.