General Science

8 Reasons You Won’t Want to Miss the Eclipse

posted: 08/09/17
by: Jason Ginsburg

On August 21, America will "host" a total eclipse of the sun. What's so special about this astronomical event? Here are 10 reasons.

1. It's (possibly) a once-in-a-lifetime event. There are eclipses every year, but few of them are visible in the United States. And very few of them are visible from coast to coast, as this one will be. The last time this happened was 1918. Unless you plan to travel abroad for an eclipse, this is your best chance -- especially in the western part of the country -- to see it on your home soil.

2. You'll experience total darkness in the daytime. The main path of the eclipse, from Oregon to South Carolina, will cover the area in total darkness for about two minutes in the early afternoon. Stars will come out. Birds will stop singing. Crickets will start chirping. The light from the sun's corona will give an otherworldly quality to the surroundings. Some people say a solar eclipse is a spiritual experience.

3. It's a great chance to study the sun. According to NASA, "a total solar eclipse presents a rare opportunity to observe the corona and chromosphere, the two outermost layers of the sun's atmosphere." Usually, the sun is so bright that its surface, the photosphere, is all we can observe. But when the moon blocks out that intense light, astronomers can observe and study the much dimmer solar atmosphere. We can use the opportunity to learn about solar flares -- which impact technology on Earth -- and how radiation affects astronauts on long-duration missions.

4. It's a live event like no other. Sure, the whole country comes together to watch American Idol or the Oscars or the Super Bowl. But those involve just sitting on your couch. To experience this incredible event, you have to go outside and join your friends, neighbors, and other science fans. It's a communal moment like nothing you've ever experienced.

5. Even astronauts on the International Space Station will see it. The ISS will pass through the moon's shadow three times, experiencing two partial and one near-total eclipses. And they'll see the giant patch of darkness sweeping across America.


6. Science Channel will cover it live. We'll be live from Oregon, Nebraska, and South Carolina, with special insights from NASA astronaut Mike Massimino and other experts. The fun begins at noon Eastern. And if you experienced the eclipse in person, you can see the first images and learn about the newest discoveries in our special at 9 Eastern. Away from your TV? Watch the coverage on our Facebook page.

7. It's your last chance for three years. America won't see another solar eclipse until 2024 -- and that one won't travel from coast to coast. The farthest west that eclipse will go is San Antonio, Texas.

8. You get to wear cool glasses. Enough said.

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