Sorry, California: Aug. 21, 2017, Total Solar Eclipse Will Only Be Partial In The Golden State

With all the hype surrounding the upcoming total solar eclipse in the United States, you may have found this article by searching for places to spot the historic event in California. Sorry to disappoint you, fans of times when the moon’s orbit crosses that between the sun and Earth: The much-ballyhooed total eclipse of the sun next month (there are watching parties being planned throughout the country, you know) will be but a partial one in the Golden State.

A wide swath of U.S. territory—particularly the stretch from Salem, Ore. to Charleston, S.C.—will yield a path to view the Aug. 21 eclipse in its totality.

Astronomy aficionados are going ga-ga over this, and with good reason: The last total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States was in 1979, according to NASA, and the last to hit the mainland was 99 years ago.

According to media reports, hotels along the path are booked (with some planning stretching back years in anticipation of the heavenly event). People have marked the occasion on their calendars. Special viewing glasses have been secured. Invitations to watch parties have been sent out.

Photo by Goddard Science Visualization Studio/NASA

Nerd Central aka NASA also is all agog over the imminent solar eclipse. At the ready is their Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) to study the moon’s shadow passing over our planet as a means to learn more about how the sun’s energy is absorbed and reflected in Earth’s atmosphere through the use of camera-captured data and measurements on the ground.

Learn more about that EPIC quest here: has put together a list of the best cities to see the eclipse. You can also watch live video of next month’s eclipse recorded by NASA.

But alas, in California, residents won’t get the full effect. It’ll only be a partial eclipse as the moon covers part of the sun. If you’re still interested in watching the partial eclipse, it will occur roughly between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

“At about 9:05 a.m. there will be the first little sort of a bite — a tiny little nibble — taken out of the top of the sun,” the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, E.C. Krupp, told the Los Angeles Times. “Over time it will get larger because the moon is moving more and more into the sun.”

And another thing: Just because it’s a partial version doesn’t mean you can gaze at it with your naked eyeballs. Looking directly into the sun can severely damage your peepers, people. To view the eclipse, you’ll need to wear special glasses equipped with special-purpose solar filters.

Looking directly at the sun can severely hurt your eyes. The folks at NASA recommend checking with local science museums, schools and astronomy clubs for special eclipse glasses. If you do buy a pair, make sure it’s ISO 12312-2 compliant and CE certified. We found a nice pair of eclipse glasses on for $12.69.

If you’re too cheap to get a pair and you enjoy welding or know a welder, you can use a welding mask with a No. 14 shade or darker. You also can use a telescope provided it’s equipped with solar filters or a pinhole camera.

NASA graphic provides a primer on watching a solar eclipse without damaging your eyes. Whatever your preference, remember: Sunglasses are not for eclipse viewing, as they lack the proper level of protection. Wear special glasses, which will look something like this:

Feature photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images News/Getty Images
According to weather experts, eclipse viewing (again, just partial in California, sorry) should be ideal given a usual weather pattern across the state in mid-August featuring a high-pressure ridge overhead allowing for clear skies.
The excitement of pinhole viewing as depicted in this NASA photo
But not everything will be peachy keen in those states where the total eclipse will be visible. According to Bloomberg, the solar eclipse could shut down more than 9,000 MW of solar power in the four hours or so that the moon will obstruct the sun. Starting just after the noon hour EST, the eclipse will cast a 70-mile shadow along a path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, effectively blocking all that solar power from reaching energy grids.

California will be the biggest hit as solar power on some days serves as much as 40 percent of the state’s energy load, Bloomberg reported.

So, you see, it’s a mixed bag. To get your motor running, here’s a NASA video on how to safely view a total solar eclipse, complete with some nice music.

Reported By / Uppermost photo is NASA screengrab via YouTube

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Originally published July 23, 2017.

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