Solar eclipse crescent

CREATING A CRESCENT: Through shade, images of the sun can be seen on the ground during the 2017 total eclipse. 

A total solar eclipse will be visible from the United States on April 8. You’re getting the news now in case you want to plan a trip to totality. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun which sweeps a shadow across the Earth. Under the right circumstances, the moon completely blocks the sun and the result is called a total eclipse. The path of totality for this eclipse begins in the Pacific Ocean, sweeps across Mexico, enters the US near Del Rio, Texas, continues across the Midwest, and leaves the US from Maine.

Here in the Red Hills, the moon misses the sun’s center and it’s called a partial eclipse. The difference between a total and partial eclipse is – well, the difference between night and day. The sun is bright, very bright. If some of the sun is still visible, it’s still pretty bright out. Here in the Red Hills, the eclipse will begin, called first contact, around 1:44 p.m. on April 8. Maximum eclipse occurs around 3 pm, and covers 76% of the sun. Last contact occurs at 4:17 p.m. and the event is over.

Of course, don’t look directly at the sun without proper protection such as eclipse glasses or a welder’s glass, shade 12 or higher. Using a cell phone, I took this picture just after totality during the 2017 total eclipse in Greenville, S.C. When sunlight filters through a shade tree with a thin canopy, the tree forms a “camera obscura” with dozens of images of the sun on the ground. During the eclipse, look around for the right type of tree and you’ll see multiple images of the sun in the partial shade.

This is the last total solar eclipse visible from the US until 2045. If you haven’t experienced a total eclipse, I recommend traveling to the path of totality. It is an awe-inspiring experience. Accommodations in the path of totality during the event have already become very expensive. With friends, we are staying just an hour outside the path, and driving to the path that morning. We chose the hill country of Texas where there’s a higher chance of sunshine than the Midwest or the Northeast. Perhaps you have friends to stay with in one of the states in the path: Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. Let’s all pray for clear weather so we can witness one of His beautiful shows.

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