Rare Total Solar Eclipse For North America In 2017

| by Nicholas Roberts

In 2017, North America will see its first total eclipse since 1979.  The news is generating buzz around the nation, and people are already booking hotel rooms.

In a solar eclipse, the moon crosses the path between the earth and the sun, blocking out the sun. For a few minutes on Aug. 21, 2017, this will occur in North America, reports KPCC.

Some of the best locations for viewing the eclipse will be the Oregon coast, southern Idaho and central Wyoming.

"If you can only see one in your lifetime, the one to see is Aug. 21, 2017," Sam Storch, a retired astronomy professor, told the Seattle Times. "This is something scheduled by the motions of objects in the heavens. There is nothing humans can do to make it come sooner or later. There is no do-over."

The eclipse will cross the entire length of the country on a path that is 90 miles wide. That path begins near Depoe Bay, Oregon, and ends near Charleston, South Carolina.

The last total solar eclipse to happen in the United States occurred in 1979, but only covered five states according to data from NASA.

Reservations for tours, hotels and car rentals have been filling up quickly.

"You have so many people born since the last one occurred who have never seen a total eclipse of the sun. It’s really an opportunity," said astronomer and former NASA scientist Paul Maley.

What makes this particular eclipse so special is that it will be viewable from populated areas, which is rare for such events.

"Total solar eclipses are not rare. They happen all over the world, but they are rare in populated areas," said Alex Young, associate director of the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "That’s what makes this one so exciting. Having one from Oregon to South Carolina is phenomenal."

The next solar eclipse after the 2017 one is due to happen in 2024.

Sources: KPCC via KNBC, Seattle Times / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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