RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – On August 21, millions will see something they’ve never seen before – a total solar eclipse.
All of North America will see at least a partial eclipse on August 21, but only the United States will see the total eclipse. This amazing event will happen even though the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon. Because the moon is 400 times closer to Earth will allow the moon to cover up the only star in our solar system.
Totality of the eclipse begins in Oregon at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and ends over South Carolina at 2:45 p.m., about 90 minutes later.
That means the full shadow of the moon will travel at three times the speed of sound or about 2,000 mph across the country.
The path of totality is only about 70-miles wide and will pass through parts of 14 states, but it won’t pass over central North Carolina.
Just 90 to 95 percent of the sun will be covered in central North Carolina, despite that, the sun will still be strong enough to keep the day light and sky blue.
In order to view the partial eclipse and not damage your eyes, you must have special eclipse glasses, a viewer or other indirect way to see the moon partially cover the sun.
Looking through a camera lens, binoculars or telescope will not protect your eyes. Solar eclipse glasses are similar to a welders shield but filter out harmful UV light making it possible to look at the sun.
If you want to see the moon completely cover the sun and turn day into night, the closest spots are in South Carolina and the mountains in the western-most part of North Carolina.
In these spots at about 2:30 in the afternoon, it will get dark for about 2 minutes.
Stars and some planets will become visible, birds will stop chirping, the temperatures will drop nearly 20 degrees and only then will it be safe to take off your protective eye-wear. During this time, you will be able to see the sun’s outer edges called the corona.
If you’ve already got plans on August 21, the next time the United States will experience a total solar eclipse is 2024, but that shadow will only travel from Texas to Maine.
Central North Carolina will see a total solar eclipse in 2078 – that’s in 61 years.
And if you remember seeing an eclipse once before in North Carolina – you’re right – about a third of the sun was blocked on Christmas Day in 2000. That was the last memorable solar eclipse across the state.
This is expected to be the most viewed eclipse of all time. It could also be the biggest social media event ever with traffic quickly turning in to a nightmare.
Fingers crossed that clouds won’t ruin the show!