Top 5 Need to Know Facts About the Solar Eclipse

Written by Matt Wende For those of you hoping to watch the solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017, here are some facts that you probably need to know! WatchMojo News presents 5 Need to Know Facts on the 2017 Solar Eclipse! Where can it be seen? What do you need to safely view it? How often does this happen? Watch to find out? Watch on WatchMojo: Have a suggestion for what video we should make next? Submit your suggestion on our suggest page here: WatchMojo.commy/suggest.php

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If on August 21, 2017, you suddenly feel like it might be the end of the world, don’t worry! It’s just a solar eclipse! Welcome to WatchMojo news, the series from where we look at news stories that should be on your radar.

In this instalment, we’re taking a look at 5 things that you should know about the solar eclipse.

#5: What Are the Different Types of Eclipses?

Eclipses happen once in a while, but this one is getting a lot of hype because a good chunk of people in the United States will be able to see a total eclipse, meaning that the moon will pass between the earth and for a moment block the sun entirely. This is only one type of eclipse though, as depending on the distance of the moon, and the earth, there can also be an annular eclipse, where a ring of the sun is visible around the moon. Most people across North America who can see the event will see a partial eclipse, meaning only a portion of the sun will be covered.

#4: How Does an Eclipse Like This Actually Happen?

The orbit of the moon is not perfectly circular, but rather more of an oval or elliptic shape. As a result, the distance between the moon and the earth can very. In order for a complete solar eclipse to happen, a huge series of circumstances must line up, most notable that the moon must be as close to the earth as possible, thus appearing larger to people looking up from the Earth's surface. If the moon was further away during, but still passed directly in front of the sun, this would result in an Annular Eclipse.

#3: How Rare Is a Total Eclipse?

A total solar eclipse happens on average once every 18 months. Don’t think if you miss this one you can just wait in a year and a half though! Because the eclipse is only visible from a small part of earth, a total eclipse is only visible from any single location once every 360 to 410 years. On top of that, over the course of thousands of years, the moon is slowly moving further away from the earth, meaning that total eclipse will become more rare and have a shorter duration in the future.

#2: Will You Be Able to See It?

In this rare event, the total eclipse should be visible for approximately of 2 minutes and 40 seconds. There’s a very specific track where this will be visible, roughly 70 miles wide, and will cut through the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. For the rest of the United States as well as most of North America, a partial eclipse will still be visible, but the further you are from the path of totality, the less of the sun will be blocked.

#1: Is It Safe to Look at the Eclipse?

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s dangerous to look at a solar eclipse, let’s think for a moment. It’s dangerous to stare at the sun period, and just because 90% of the sun is blocked, the 10% still visible could permanent damage to your eyes. Dark sunglasses aren't good enough! If you want to be able to see the eclipse, you’re going to need special eclipse glasses which block out 99.9999% of light. Make sure you’re getting the proper ones too! NASA has recommended a #12 or #13 level welder’s mask at least, so don't go buying cheap glasses from a non-reputable source.

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