On Aug. 21, 2017, people across the United States will see the sun disappear behind the moon, turning daylight into twilight, causing the temperature drop rapidly and revealing massive streamers of light streaking through the sky around the silhouette of the moon. On that day, America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse .
The so-called Great American Total Solar Eclipse will darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide. People who descend upon this “path of totality” for the big event are in for an unforgettable experience.
Here is Space.com’s complete guide to the 2017 total solar eclipse. It includes information about where and when to see it, how long it lasts, what you can expect to see, and how to plan ahead to ensure you get the most out of this incredible experience.
The total solar eclipse passes over the northeast corner of Georgia. Blairsville will experience 2 minutes of totality. Clayton is closer to the center of the path of the eclipse and enjoys 2 minutes and 35 seconds.
The weather forecast in August for this part of Georgia is fair. For weather prognostications, visit the essential eclipse meteorology web site eclipsophile.com for the low down.
An eclipse chaser in Georgia would be well advised to follow the short-term weather forecast before eclipse day and be prepared to drive to clear skies wherever they might be from Kentucky to South Carolina.
The shadow of the Moon first touches Georgia at 2:34 p.m. EDT and leaves the state at 2:40 p.m. EDT. The shadow of the Moon passes by quick, about 1,800 miles per hour.
During a total solar eclipse, the disk of the moon blocks out the last sliver of light from the sun, and the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible. The corona is far from an indistinct haze; skywatchers report seeing great jets and ribbons of light, twisting and curling out into the sky.
“It brings people to tears,” Rick Fienberg, a spokesperson for the American Astronomical Society (AAS), told Space.com of the experience. “It makes people’s jaw drop.”
During totality, the area inside the moon’s shadow is cloaked in twilight — a very strange feeling to experience in the middle of the day. Just before and just after totality, observers can see this cloak of darkness moving toward them across the landscape, and then moving away.
These effects are not visible during a partial solar eclipse, so skywatchers are encouraged to see if they are inside the path of totality during the total eclipse.
From what locations will the total solar eclipse be visible?
The path of totality for the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse is about 70 miles wide and stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. It passes through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
You can use this interactive map from NASA to zoom in on the path and find out the exact locations from which it will be visible.
You can also check out our state-by-state guide to find out which major cities and prime locations will fall inside the path of totality. You may also want to attend one of the many eclipse parties and organized events taking place around the path of totality.
When will the total solar eclipse occur, and how long will it last?
The timing of the total solar eclipse and its duration both depend on where you are inside the path of totality.
At most, the moon will completely cover the disk of the sun for 2 minutes and 40 seconds. That’s about how long totality will last for observers positioned anywhere along the center of the path of totality. As you move toward the edge of the path, the duration of totality will decrease. People standing at the very edge of the path may observe totality for only a few seconds.
The chart below lists the moment of mid-totality and the duration of totality for a handful of cities that lie close to the center of the path. Data from NASA.