In case you didn’t know, there’s an eclipse on the horizon! Unless you’ve been living behind the complete darkness of eclipse shades, you probably already know that Nashville is in the 70-mile wide path of a total solar eclipse on August 21. The eclipse will begin at 11:59 a.m., totality begins at 1:27 and for nearly two minutes the city will go entirely dark. If you live in Brentwood, however, you may want to make your way over to east Nashville or the Adventure Science Center to catch the full glory of a total eclipse.
As it’s the first total eclipse to hit the United States in nearly 100 years, it’s a really big deal! And things are about to get weird. Here are a few fun facts and amazing phenomena to get you pumped about about upcoming eclipse.
The Stars Are Aligned
Well, not so much the stars as the moon and the Earth. An eclipse occurs when the moon covers the sun as it makes its way across the sky. For a total eclipse to occur, the dark side of the moon needs to be facing Earth, it needs to cross the Earth’s orbit, and it needs to be at just the right angle from our planet. That’s a lot of aligning!
An Eclipse Never Strikes the Same Location Twice
At least, not in your lifetime. Unlike lightning, which can totally strike twice, you’ll probably never see a total eclipse in Nashville again. We’ll let Vox and NASA explain this one: “Because the Saros cycle ends on an uneven number of days, eclipses happen in different locations. ‘The extra 1/3 day displacement means that Earth must rotate an additional ~8 hours or ~120º with each cycle,’ NASA explains.”
Be on the lookout for eerie shadow bands that race across the landscape in the moments leading up to and immediately following totality. Even NASA doesn’t fully understand this strange phenomenon of light and motion and encourage eclipse watchers to study them and come up with their own hypotheses!
Fast and Furious
Eclipse2017.org, a wonderful blog dedicated to all thing eclipse-related reasons that “Because of the geometry of the Earth’s shape, the shadow will travel faster across its surface and the ends of the eclipse path, and slowest right in the middle.” Using this great eclipse calculator we discovered that by the time it hits Nashville the shadow, or the “umbra,” will be traveling at a whopping 1447 mph.
A Must-See Event
More than 200 million people live within a one-day drive of the path of totality. Record crowds are expected in Nashville and at National Parks throughout the country. According to a report by CBS, the Great American Eclipse may be the best-observed solar eclipse in history. EarthSky estimates that up to 7.4 million people will travel to the path of totality. Be sure to travel safely and plan on getting off the road before the eclipse.
Diamonds in the Sky
Look for Bailey’s Beads as the moon slides by the sun later this month. This stunning phenomenon occurs when the lunar topography allows some shimmering beads of sunlight to shine through in some places, but not in others. The diamond ring effect occurs when only one bead of light remains, with a bright ring of light around the lunar silhouette. Given the intensity of the light, it is not safe to view Bailey’s Beads without your eclipse glasses!
Stars by Day
When the sun disappears, during the brief moments of totality, the brightest stars and planets become visible. Be sure to look for Venus and Jupiter, but get those glasses back on before totality ends!
Ring of Fire
You’ll know it’s time to reach for the shades again when reddish flames of the chromosphere appear along the receding edge of the lunar shadow. This is your sign that totality is about to end and things are going to get bright again.
Go Ahead and Cry. You Won’t Be Alone
AmericanEclipseUSA says it’s okay to get emotional during a solar eclipse. And we’re going to believe them. “A total eclipse of the Sun is widely regarded as a jaw-dropping, gut-level, visceral experience by veteran eclipse observers. Different people have different reactions to this incredible sight. Some people have been known to weep or scream at the sight of the Sun being extinguished by the Moon. Others report standing awestruck, in silence, words failing them.”
So go on, get out there and enjoy the eclipse. But remember, safety first!