Science of Great American Eclipse explained

Science of Great American Eclipse explained

Sabrina Satterthwaite, Editor-in-Chief

  To ancient people, solar eclipses were seen as a bad omen or sign of coming illness and death, and if you’re someone who appreciates Idaho’s two-lane freeway with minimal traffic on it, then the Great American Eclipse might be a bad sign for you, too.

  The Great American Eclipse will take place the morning of August 21 with totality beginning at around 11:33 A.M. The path of totality, or the places where the sun’s light will temporarily be completely blocked out, spans across America from Oregon to South Carolina. Only around 12.25 million Americans, or 3.7 percent of the country’s population, live in the path of totality. Idaho is the second state it passes through, and the closest location of the path of totality for 38 million Americans, according to the Great American Eclipse’s website.

   While the path of totality is considered the umbra of the eclipse, Blackfoot is a part of the penumbra of the solar eclipse: the places where the moon only partially blocks out the sun’s light. Blackfoot is only a little over 20 minutes away from the path of totality beginning in Shelly.

  What makes the Great American Eclipse great is that it passes from coast to coast of the United States, something that hasn’t happened since 1918. The next total solar eclipse to travel from the West Coast to East Coast won’t happen until 2045. For the 2045 eclipse, Idahoans will have to travel to Utah if they want to view the eclipse in its totality.

  In short, total solar eclipses are when the moon passes between the sun and the earth and its shadow makes some part of the earth dark. In order for a total solar eclipse to occur, four things have to happen simultaneously: the sun, moon and earth must be lined up; there must be a New Moon; the moon must be near a lunar node, a place where the earth and moon’s orbital paths meet; and the moon must be near perigee, a part of the moon’s orbit that is closer to the earth, making it possible for the moon to appear big enough on earth to block the sun.

  The rarity of these conditions happening at the same time is why total solar eclipses only happen around every couple of years throughout the world and why it takes around 375 years for a total solar eclipse to happen in the same location again according to Time and Date.

  So the good news is, if you’re tired of hearing people making Total Eclipse of the Heart references constantly, you have a while before you have to hear them again.