BLOG: Breaking down the total solar eclipse

BLOG: Breaking down the total solar eclipse

(WBTV) - In case you have been out of touch for the past several months, read this carefully.  There is a total solar eclipse of the sun approaching next month on Monday August 21st.  So should you care?  My opinion?  You're darn right you should care.  Don't walk, run into your office and take that day off, I'm begging you.

The key here is "total" solar eclipse.  While they aren't all that rare from a global standpoint (one or two occurs every year), they are VERY rare in any one region on earth.  See the accompanying image.  The solar eclipse occurs as the moon travels between the sun and the earth and casts its shadow on earth.  But if you look carefully, the moon's shadow shows up as just a tiny dot on earth, it covers less than 1%.  The chances of that dot passing anywhere close to your location is slim.

As an example, the next solar eclipse that will even nip the Carolinas will be on the South Carolina coast in 2062.  For North Carolina, you'll be waiting until 2078!  The average length of time between eclipses hitting the exact same spot on earth is 375 years, wow!  Get the picture?  Go see this event!

Yes, I know you may have heard Charlotte will have a 98% eclipse here, that's good enough right?  Nope!  There is no comparison between even a 99% eclipse and a total eclipse.  Experiencing your surroundings descending into almost total darkness (certainly dark enough to see the planets) is a surreal experience at 2:40pm in the afternoon.  Looking up and seeing that dark disc in the sky surrounded by the ring of light produced by the sun's corona is a life-changing experience for some.

Below is a map of where the total eclipse will pass and the time of day.  It cuts a path across the entire state of South Carolina, an easy day trip if the traffic cooperates.

Image source: NASA

Remember the date:  Monday August 21st.  Did I mention you need to take the day off?

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