Published: 2017-08-21 08:01:00
Updated: 2017-08-21 08:09:02
Posted August 21
Raleigh, N.C. — Whether they're in the path of totality or in an area with only partial visibility, hopeful skywatchers from coast to coast are making plans on Monday to view the solar eclipse, which many are considering a "once in a lifetime" opportunity.
According to WRAL's eclipse expert Tony Rice, a volunteer in the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador program and a software engineer at Cisco Systems, about 92 percent of the sun will be blocked in and around the Triangle on Monday. The darkness and effects won't be as prevalent in Raleigh as they will be in some other U.S. towns, but it should be quite a view.
During the total solar eclipse, the moon will pass in front of the sun, casting its shadow across all of North America, marking the first event of its kind in the U.S. in 38 years.
The country's last coast-to-coast total eclipse was in 1918, and the U.S. mainland hasn't seen a total solar eclipse since 1979. The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024, and the next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.
According to The Associated Press, 200 million people are within a day's drive of Monday's path of totality. The total eclipse will cast a shadow that will race through 14 states, entering near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 1:16 p.m. and moving diagonally across the heartland over Casper, Wyoming, Carbondale, Illinois, and Nashville, Tennessee, and then exiting near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:47 p.m. The opportunity for viewing the eclipse in the Triangle will peak at 2:44 p.m
Tony Rice explains that people viewing the partial eclipse in central and eastern North Carolina will see it get darker outside than usual during the event's afternoon peak.
According to Rice, the sun will be covered less in areas northeast of the Triangle, with Roanoke Rapids seeing only about 90 percent obscuration and the most northern portions of the Outer Banks seeing only about 85 percent.
In his viewing guide, Rice explain that, at about 60 minutes before totality, the moon makes first contact as it begins to cover the right side of the sun. "You won't notice any anything at once on the ground; it is still very bright out," said Rice. "But over the next 40 minutes, the moon takes a greater bite, forming a crescent sun. Be sure to look a couple of times during this period."
Rice recommends a different viewing plan for people in the path of totality.
During the eclipse, regardless of their locations, people are able to carry on their usual routines outside safely with no planning necessary. People planning to look up towards the sun and view the eclipse, however, should wear approved safety glasses to prevent blindness or vision loss. Animals may act strangely during the eclipse, but there is no threat to them or their vision.
No glasses? Viewers can use use pinhole projectors instead that can cast an image of the eclipse into a box. The only time it's safe to look directly without protective eyewear is if viewers are in the path of totality and only when the sun is 100 percent covered.
Turn to WRAL on television, on your computer or in the WRAL News app for streaming video views from across the country.