Seeing The Eclipse From Home

USA Partial Eclipse

Click to find the percent obscuration of the Sun at your home!

The above map shows all the locations in the Continental USA where at least a partial eclipse will be seen on Eclipse Day!  That is to say, ALL locations!  If you live along the path of totality, you can just stay home and see a total eclipse!  (Clear skies permitting, that is!)  Everyone else needs to travel to one of the twelve eclipse states to see this amazing spectacle.  But traveling is simply not an option for everyone, due to commitments, finances, health, etc.  But since everyone in the USA has a rare opportunity to see at least see a deep partial eclipse, everyone should make an effort to do so!  So if you MUST stay home on Eclipse Day, this page will show you what to expect and how to prepare.

Please consult our Total Eclipse Phenomena page to learn about the importance of totality, and why you will not get the full eclipse experience unless you are along the path of totality.  It is a common misconception that seeing a deep partial solar eclipse is somehow similar to seeing a total eclipse.  Some folks might think that, if the Sun is obscured 99% as seen from their home, there is no need to see more.  Indeed, the sky will certainly appear very strange under those conditions, but the Sun is not extinguished at anything less than 100% obscuration.

(In expressing the degree of a partial eclipse, astronomers often measure the magnitude, which is the percentage of the Sun’s diameter covered by the Moon.  Instead, the graphics and numbers presented on this page represent the percent obscuration, which is the amount of the visible area of the Sun’s disc that is covered by the Moon.  It’s hoped that this measurement is more intuitive and meaningful to non-specialists.)

On Eclipse Day… Monday, August 21, 2017 the entire North American continent will see at least some phase of a partial eclipse, including Alaska and Hawaii.  Everyone in the “Lower 48” will see at least a 50% eclipsed Sun, except for the very northernmost tip of Maine.  Locations closer to the path of totality experience a more “deep” partial eclipse, while locations farther away from the path observe a more “shallow” partial eclipse.

For this reason, every single one of the 300 million Americans should have a pair of Eclipse Shades, or otherwise practice safe eclipse viewing.  You can be sure that planetariums and park districts across the USA will have filtered telescopes set up so that everyone can get a firsthand look at this rare occlusion of the Sun by the Moon.

THE WORST PLACES to be in the USA will be the extreme northeast and southwest.  New England is a beautiful place, and Southern California has enviable weather, but the eclipse will mostly pass those places by!  In Los Angeles, the Sun will be obscured only 61% at maximum eclipse.  Both Boston and Phoenix will experience a 63% eclipse.

Partial-70

The vast majority of Americans will see at least a 70% obscured partial eclipse.  Over the two hour duration of partial eclipse, the daylight will become grey and feeble, and the colors of daylight will appear washed out.  New York City will see a 71% eclipse.  Philadelphia, New Orleans, Dallas and San Francisco will see 75% of the Sun obscured at maximum eclipse.  Miami will have a 78% eclipse.

Partial-80Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. will observe an 80% eclipsed Sun at maximum.  In Minneapolis and Milwaukee, the maximum eclipse will be 83%.  In Chicago, the max will be 88%.

Partial-90

At 90%, the daylight is quite dim, only 10% of normal.  The air is feeling quite cool, since most of the heat radiation from the Sun is blocked by the Moon.  Cities within 200 miles of the path of totality are seeing strange things in the sky!  At Jacksonville, the Sun is 90% obscured.  Salt Lake City and Indianapolis both have 91%, while Denver and Birmingham are at 92%.  In Des Moines and Louisville, 93% of the Sun is blocked.  At Mount Rushmore, a 96% partial eclipse is seen.

In the areas this close to the path, very strange things are seen in the sky, but NOT a total eclipse!  The bright planets Venus and Jupiter shine in a bright twilight sky, the diamond ring is seen, and closer locations see Baily’s beads and shadow bands.  Even with the Sun obscured 99%, you will STILL just be standing in the sunshine!  Atlanta experiences a 97% eclipse.  Charlotte and Omaha are at 98%.

Partial-99In Portland and Boise, a 99% obscured Sun shines ominously down from on high.  In Tennessee, both Chattanooga and Knoxville lie right outside the path, and are just a fraction of a percent away from totality.  If there are any citizens of these cities who did NOT hear of the eclipse in advance, they are no doubt quite troubled!  But even at 99% obscuration, the Sun is still 10,000 times brighter than it would be during totality!

Totality will be seen in several large US cities, and MILLIONS of Americans will see a 100% obscured Sun right from their homes.  These cities include: Salem, Oregon; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina.  The path of totality will pass through the middle of two cities, through the north side of Kansas City, and the south side of St. Louis.  One can imagine a strange scene at the Gateway Arch where a thin sliver of uneclipsed Sun hangs eerily overhead.

Nashville is the largest city to have 100% of totality pass over 100% of the city.  One can only hope that great things will be planned for this most-favored American city on Eclipse Day, Monday, August 21, 2017.

* * * * *

The above map, graphics and percentages are taken from the NASA Interactive Eclipse Map.  Follow the link to find local eclipse times and percentages for your home town!

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC

 

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