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Solar Eclipse: Top Ten Reasons to See the Great American Eclipse

1. First Total Solar Eclipse in 38 years (in the U.S.)

While total solar eclipses happen every few years, this is the first total solar eclipse visible in the United States since February 26, 1979.  For many, it will be the first accessible total solar eclipse of their lifetime.

2. It’s a Once-In-A-Lifetime Event

This eclipse will cross the full expanse of the United States, from West Coast to East Coast, darkening a 70-mile wide strip of land.  This is the first time that a partial solar eclipse will be visible in the 48 lower United States, and that the path of totality crosses the full width of the country.  It is estimated that a majority of the U.S. population is within a two-day’s drive or less to the path of totality.  The last coast to coast total solar eclipse took place 99 years ago, on June 18, 1918.

3. It’s being called the Great American Eclipse

For the reasons described above, in addition to the fact that the U.S. will be the only country to see full totality, this is being lauded as the Great American Eclipse.  Other countries will be able to view the partial eclipse, just not the whole shebang.

4. The Stars will Come Out in the Day

A magical moment will occur when the stars come out during the day.  They will start to appear during the hour of partial eclipse preceding totality, and will be at peak visibility during the ~2 minutes of complete darkness.

5. Planets will be Visible, Too

During a total solar eclipse like the one on August 21, planets become visible against the backdrop of the rapidly darkening sky.  Look for Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus.

6. Two Minutes of Complete Darkness

The period of totality on August 21 will endure for ~2 minutes depending on where you are.  The maximum point of the eclipse is Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where darkness will last for a full 2 minutes and 40 seconds.  The longest a solar eclipse can last is 7.5 minutes.

7. Sister Lunar Eclipse

Due to the geometric lineup, a solar eclipse always happens right before or after a sister lunar eclipse.  In this case, a lunar eclipse will occur a few weeks before the Great American Eclipse.  The lunar eclipse on August 7/8 will be visible in parts of several other continents: Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa.

8. A History of ‘Heavenly’ Power

Eclipses have been connected with historical events.  Christopher Columbus used a lunar eclipse to his favor when he was forced to bring his ships ashore on Jamaica in February 1504.  The indigenous people generously fed and sheltered Columbus and his men.  However, some of his men mutinied and stole from the Jamaican people.  They in turn cut off food and supplies.

Columbus recalled an upcoming lunar eclipse, and told the tribal chief that his god would darken the moon in displeasure.  The lunar eclipse took place on February 29, 1504 and darkened the moon to an eerie blood-red.  The indigenous people offered gifts and food, hoping to restore the light.  Columbus timed the eclipse on his hourglass and said the god had pardoned them just before totality ended.

Columbus considered the eclipse a lifesaver as rescue ships did not arrive until four months later.  Not sure if this is a lesson to know your eclipses or to honor generosity with honesty…

9. Energy Clearing & Cleansing

Eclipses are associated with moving long-term projects or long-awaited developments forward.  They shift the energy and symbolically clear and cleanse stagnant areas of your life.  What might this mean for you?

10. It’s a Saros Series 145 Solar Eclipse

Eclipses happen in families or recurring patterns.  Despite the fact that these cycles occur over more than a thousands years, the Babylonians discovered these patterns and could accurately predict solar and lunar eclipses by 747 BC.

This Solar Eclipse on August 21 is part of the Saros series.  “Saros” means ‘repetition’ or ‘to be repeated’ in Greek.  In layman’s terms, the Saros series is a progression of eclipses that start at either the North or South Pole, and progress towards a nodal axis (either North or South), then after around 650 years they swing back, like a pendulum.  As the series progresses, the eclipses change from partial to total eclipses as they reach their nodal axis.

Because each progression is a slight movement towards or away from the nodal axis (10-11 degrees along the Zodiacal longitude), almost identical eclipses occur every 18 years and 9-11 days.

At any given time, around 42 Saros series are active, and moving across the globe on their charted path.

The Great American Eclipse belongs to Saros series 145.  It is the 22nd of 77 eclipses.  As such, this series is on the upswing, and the total solar eclipses in the series will increase in length to over 7 minutes long.  All series begin and end with several partial solar eclipses.  This series began on January 4, 1639 and will conclude on April 17, 3009.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Viewing the Solar Eclipse

Totality in Verse (a poem)

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