5 Crazy Facts About the Solar Eclipse On August 21

Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 08/14/2017

solar-eclipse-in-space-illustrationThe August 21 solar eclipse is quickly approaching. If you don't know much about solar eclipses, you're not alone. Many people don't know what causes a solar eclipse or what you should do to prepare for it.

So before August 21 comes and goes, let's take a look at five things you need to know about the upcoming solar eclipse.

1. This Isn't Your Ordinary Solar Eclipse.
The eclipse on August 21 will be an event to remember because it will be a total solar eclipse. During a total eclipse, the disk of the sun is completely covered by the disk of the moon. This causes jets and ribbons of light to twist and curl out of the sky.

It also engulfs the sky in twilight, even in the middle of the day. Before and after the eclipse reaches totality, sky-gazers will see a cloak of darkness stretching across the landscape and then moving away. These effects are not visible during a partial solar eclipse.

2. Staring At The Eclipse Can Cause Serious Damage To Your Eyes.

You're likely aware of the fact that looking directly into the sun can damage your retinas. This applies to solar eclipses as well.

To help prevent serious and potentially permanent damage to your eyes when viewing the eclipse, you need to wear special solar viewing glasses. These will protect your eyes and allow you to watch the solar eclipse in its full entirety.

3. The Eclipse's Appearance varies Depending On Your location.

The upcoming solar eclipse will cross the United States in a diagonal band that stretches 73 miles wide. Though this arch covers the entire country, only the locations directly below the path will experience complete darkness. The rest of the country will experience partial light.

In Amarillo, we aren't directly on the path of the eclipse. As a result, we will only experience a partial solar eclipse. This simulation reveals what we can expect to see from our backyards in the Texas Panhandle.

If you want to experience the full magnitude of the total solar eclipse, you'll need to travel to a state on the eclipse's path. According to space.com, the best states to see the eclipse in will be Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.

camera-filming-solar-eclipse4. The Solar Eclipse Can Affect The Weather.

Because the sun is blocked out during the solar eclipse, many eclipse observers will likely notice a sudden drop in temperature. How cold temperatures will get varies depending on how much of the sun is covered as well as the time of year.

In March 2015, space.com reported that temperatures dropped from 8 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 7 degrees F during a total solar eclipse on the Norwegian island of Svalbard. Perhaps the biggest reported temperature change caused by a total solar eclipse occurred on December 1834, when residents of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, observed a temperature drop of 38 degrees F.

Seeing as Amarillo will only experience a partial solar eclipse, it is unlikely that temperatures will drop so substantially. However, you may notice a slight chill from the lack of sunlight.

5. If You Miss This Eclipse, You'll Have To Wait Almost A Decade For The Next One.

It will be another seven years until the next total eclipse occurs, so you may want to savor the moment while it lasts. Take some time out of your day to survey the sky while wearing the proper protective eyewear.

Though it is true that total solar eclipses occur every couple years, continental North America won't view another one until 2024. This is your last chance to view a true solar eclipse for a while – unless you plan to move to a new continent.

You can learn more about how the Texas Panhandle is preparing for the upcoming solar eclipse by watching Dr. Nossaman's interview with Panhandle PBS, HERE.