For nearly a century, the United States has not been witness to a total solar eclipse. That is expected to change on August 21, as the sun, moon and Earth will align perfectly, crossing the country from coast to coast for a few spectacular minutes.
Alex Young, a solar physicist who is coordinating NASA’s education and public outreach, said, “We’re going to be looking at this event with unprecedented eyes.” This is set to be one of the most exciting, heavily viewed and much-documented solar eclipses in a long time, ABC News reports.
The entire nation is getting ready to celebrate the momentous event. Eclipse-related merchandise are selling out, eclipse parties are setting up, even baseball teams are ready to pause their games.
Angela Des Jardins, a physicist from Montana State University in charge of a NASA eclipse ballooning project, said, “This is a really amazing chance to just open the public’s eyes to wonder.” The balloons, flying at high altitude, will be beaming back live videos of the eclipse.
Satellites and ground telescopes are preparing to view the shadow that will cover around 60 to 70 miles of land. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station have cameras ready, along with ships and aircraft. Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA’s science mission office, said,
It’s going to be hard to beat, frankly.
The event will resemble dusk, and the temperature is expected to fall between 10 to 15 degrees. Scientists are likewise looking forward to how plants and animals will react to this sudden disruption.
This is the first total solar eclipse in 99 years to cross the entire country, and the first to pass through any of the lower states in 38 years. No other country will see the totality of the eclipse, which will last just one and a half hours, beginning at around 1:15 p.m. EDT and ending at 2:49 p.m. EDT.
Huge crowds are expected, and highway officials are already issuing warnings. Schools in the eclipse’s path have also cancelled classes on the day, and offices are planning breaks to witness this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.