When the skies darken in Western Washington mid-morning Monday, Aug. 21 – don’t’ panic. It’s just part of the solar eclipse that will cross America coast to coast for the first time in 100 years.
In the northwest, sky-gazers will find the total eclipse through central Oregon, where nearly 1 million visitors are expected to gather in campgrounds, state parks and festivals to awe at the celestial event amid some of state’s most beautiful landscapes.
For those in Washington not making the journey through soon-to-be jammed highways down to Oregon, you won’t completely miss out as the sun, moon and planet earth align.
The Seattle area will get a partial solar eclipse, when the moon obscures the sun by nearly 92 percent.
What time will it pass the northwest?
The eclipse will begin just after 9 a.m. and peak in Seattle around 10:20 a.m. with 92 percent of the sun obscured by the moon.
In western Oregon, some areas will see a total eclipse with total darkness that will last around two minutes
What can I expect the partial eclipse to look like in Seattle?
Expect a great darkening of the sky during the peak, even if it’s cloudy.
“It is common to hear birds chirping and going to roost in the middle of the day because they suddenly think it’s dusk. The temperature could also actually decrease a few degrees during the eclipse in areas of totality and [places] close like we are,” KIRO 7 PinPoint Meteorologist Morgan Palmer said.
Below see a map from NASA that previews how the eclipse will look in cities including Seattle. Check it out below, and scroll down to keep reading.
Will I be able to see it?
Though the spectacle will be observed (through protective glasses and equipment, read about that below) best if skies are clear, people will still notice the great darkening of the sky during the eclipse peak even if it’s cloudy.
It’s too early to know if clouds will obstruct the view during the event, but if that’s the case eclipse glasses will be useless.
But don’t confuse a cloudy day with a smoky one. If the sky is still cloaked from smoke drifting into Western Washington from B.C. wildfires, the haze won’t further obstruct the eclipse so much as just dim it.
Why aren’t we getting a total eclipse?
Eclipses happens sometimes when moon orbits earth and moves between the sun and earth, casting a shadow onto our planet.
The totality – meaning complete darkness – only reaches some cities because the geometry of the Earth and moon and how the moon’s shadow moves at a constant rate.
NASA’s path of totality maps show a crisply defined, 70-mile-wide path where the moon blocks 100 percent of the sun.
The totality will reach Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PST, and will end in South Carolina at 2:49 p.m. EST, which is about an hour and a half time frame of crossing the country.
Places nearby the path of the total eclipse, like Washington state, experience the total eclipse.
The science community calls the upcoming eclipse the astronomical event of decade, partially because the total eclipse will cross through the middle of the country.
What kind of glasses are needed?
If the sun is out, eclipse glasses will be needed – even if looking through a telescope.
KIRO 7 News talked to Dr. Russell Van Gelder, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Washington and director of the UW Medicine Eye Institute. He showed how the sun can burn a person’s eye and smartphone camera in seconds.
Some glasses claiming to protect from damage by the solar eclipse are fake. The glasses should be made by vendors on the American Astronomical Society's list not just any seller online who can make a replica, and the glasses should have a special stamp.
“You have to look for the stamp that says ISO 12312-2. That's the international certification that these are safe to use in the eclipse,” Van Gelder said. “If you don't see this, I wouldn’t trust the glasses.”
The solar eclipse is a big deal for many reasons, but for many it’s simply an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon that’s an experience of a lifetime. Will you be traveling to Oregon? Tell us why you’re traveling here.
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