People across the U.S. will be treated to a rare sight Monday, Aug. 21 as a total solar eclipse makes its way from Lincoln Way, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.
A total solar eclipse, which hasn’t been seen in the states since 1979, occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth and completely covers (or, eclipses) the sun. The moon is about 400 times smaller than the sun, but its proximity to Earth during a solar eclipse makes it appear as though the two celestial bodies are the same size. The effect lasts just two minutes, on average.
Folks in Seattle will be experiencing the eclipse in the morning hours, at 9:06 a.m. Totality — the moment in which the sun is completely covered — will last from 10:19 a.m. until 10:21 a.m. The event will end by 11:41 a.m.
Can I see the eclipse under cloud cover?
The eclipse itself will not be viewable if completely obscured by clouds. If you are under cloud cover, though, you will still be able to “experience totality,” according to the American Astronomical Society. Expect to see the sky darken and feel the temperature cool. In addition to changes in light and temperature, shadows become incredibly sharp and detailed and animals may become confused and behave strangely.
How to watch the eclipse
A solar eclipse is an amazing sight to take in – just make sure you do so safely. NASA recommends using special-purpose glasses (find a list of brands here) or hand-held solar viewers. Parents are advised to supervise children to ensure they use their solar protection properly. Do not view the eclipse with a camera, telescope or binoculars.
Looking directly at the sun during the eclipse may cause “eclipse blindness,” a phenomenon in which solar rays can seriously-damage the eye’s retina. While this may not cause permanent blindness, people who stare at the eclipse for long enough without eye protection could suffer permanent damage to their vision.