Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that August 21 marks a day that many sky watchers have been waiting for since 1979 – the total solar eclipse! Here are some fun facts, and “need-to-knows,” about this long-awaited event:

  1. There are different types of solar eclipses. Total, annular and partial. During a total solar eclipse, the Moon aligns perfectly with the Sun, with the Moon blocking out the Sun’s light. During a partial eclipse, the Moon partially covers the surface of the sun. In an annular eclipse, the Moon covers the center of the sun, leaving a “ring of fire” surrounding the outer edges of the Moon.
  2. This only happens during a New Moon. The only time that a solar eclipse happens is when the Moon is between the Sun and Earth, this time is also a New Moon. However, there is not a solar eclipse at every New Moon.
  3. Not every state will see the total eclipse… Some states will see the eclipse in “totality,” while others will see a partial eclipse. This means that the 14 states in the center of the Moon’s shadow during the eclipse (or, the path of totality), including Oregon, Nebraska, Illinois, Tennessee and South Carolina, will see a complete covering of the Sun.
  4. …But all states will see some version of an eclipse. States outside of the path of totality will still be able to enjoy a partial eclipse. The metro Detroit area will see an approximate 80 percent
  5. It’s rare. The last total solar eclipse occurred in 1979, but one traveling from coast-to-coast has not happened since 1918. The next total eclipse will happen on April 8, 2024, but will travel from south central Texas to the northeast region of the U.S. Don’t miss it, or you will have to wait until 2044!
  6. It will happen pretty quickly. The solar eclipse will travel its cross-country course in one hour and 33 minutes. It will start in Oregon at 10:16 Pacific time and end in South Carolina at 2:49 PM Eastern time, traveling at speeds up to 2,955 miles per hour. It is anticipated that the Moon will partially cover the Sun while in Detroit from 1:03 PM to 3:48 PM Eastern time, with the 80 percent eclipse happening at 2:27 PM Eastern time.
  7. You MUST wear protective eyewear…We encourage you to step outside to enjoy this event, but don’t forget your eclipse glasses (not to be confused with regular Sunglasses). Staring into the Sun can cause incredible damage to the retina and bring about permanent eye damage or blindness. Look for certified eclipse glasses regulated by an international safety standard – they will have an ISO logo and certification label. In addition, make sure you keep children’s eyes fully covered during this time.
  8. …But take in the point of totality without them. It is safe to look at the solar eclipse without your protective eyewear at the point where the Moon covers the Sun.
  9. Do not try to take pictures. You may be tempted to capture a picture or two, but, unless you’re an experienced professional photographer, do not take pictures. It can damage your equipment or cell phone.
  10. It can cause animals and the atmosphere to react in surprising ways. Animals’ normal behavior may change because of a decrease in temperatures and light during the eclipse. For example, normally nocturnal animals may emerge for this brief time or it may slightly agitate domesticated animals. Also, take note of how your shadow looks during this time!

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