When the first total solar eclipse to grace America from coast to coast in nearly a 100 years arrives on Aug. 21, those in the narrow, 70-mile-wide band of totality will experience a phenomenon unlike any other.
So what about the rest of us? If the band of totality is a front-row seat, much of the United States will only be a few rows back. As it turns out, we're all in the orchestra and this event is going to rock.
To understand what this spectacle will look like above your house, Google and scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have joined forces to create handy eclipse simulator. Just punch in your location and the website will present an animation, complete with local times, of the moon's crossing of the sun.
While some locales will only see the sun dimmed, others will experience a swift descent into darkness, with even the stars briefly making an appearance in a world turned upside-down.
"There are lots of online animations of the 2017 eclipse, but you can’t use them like ours to get a sense of the full experience, including your surroundings," Berkley project lead Dan Sevin said in a statement. "Our simulation is closer to what one might experience in a planetarium show."
The simulation, however, is only a tool in a much larger campaign by the team to create an epic, first-of-its-kind citizen science project called the "Eclipse Megamovie." They're hoping to recruit more than 1,000 volunteer photographers and amateur astronomers under the path of totality to (safely) capture images of the eclipse as it crosses the United States. In addition to the collected images being stitched into a movie, the work will provide valuable data to scientists studying the sun's corona.
The group is planning to use the same technique to compare and contrast how the sun has changed when the next total solar eclipse crosses the U.S. in April 2024.
And remember! While those in the narrow path of totality will have the safe opportunity to view the eclipse for a few minutes without safety glasses, everyone else should wear them at all times. The good news is, the glasses are cheap and available for order from a variety of reputable sources. Click here and here to view some options.
Wishing you clear skies on Aug. 21!