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The solar eclipse we’re getting on Aug. 21 next month will be a once-in-a-lifetime event, and while Sanford won’t be in the path of “total eclipse,” our view will still be pretty remarkable.

The “Great American Eclipse” will be visible in the United States only on Monday, Aug. 21, the first eclipse seen by the entire continental U.S. since June 8, 1918. It’ll be the first eclipse visible at all in the continental U.S. since 1979, when one passed only through the states of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, North Dakota and Montana (parts of Hawaii did see one in 1991).

The Aug. 21 event will follow a 70-mile-wide “path of totality” (the parts of the country that will see 100-percent eclipse) from Oregon to South Carolina. Clemson, Greenville, Columbia and Charleston in South Carolina will all fall in the “total path,” while the far western portion of North Carolina will also see a total eclipse.

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Much of North Carolina — including Sanford — will fall just outside of the path, and the farther north of the path you go, the lower the percentage of “blockage” you’ll see. According to GreatAmericanEclipse.com, 95 percent of the sun will be obscured in Sanford — making it still a pretty cool place to view it. Locally, the partial eclipse on Aug. 21 will begin at just before 1:16 p.m. and will end at 4:06 p.m. “Maximum eclipse” in Sanford will occur at 2:44 p.m. and will last several minutes.

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So what will we see? The following is from eclipse2017.org.

You’ll get the shrinking sliver of Sun, which is kind of cool but is not the real show. As the sliver thins, though, you get the very weird atmosphere that surrounds an eclipse, which is very difficult to describe. As the sliver of sun gets thinner and thinner, the sky darkens a bit, and the light around you takes on a weird, “clearer” quality. Everything seems sharper and clearer, though darker. It’s kind of like if you were squinting, and everything seemed much clearer to you. It’s very strange, and it’s a very powerful effect on your senses.

As partiality deepens, and the sliver of sun shrinks even more, the sky gets darker – very slowly, but noticeably darker. The shadows on the ground become very sharp, very contrasty, and you feel like there’s something wrong with your eyes.

The wind picks up a bit, and the temperature drops noticeably. Birds roost, evening insects come out, and the world prepares for sunset in the middle of the day.

The above link goes into detail about what you’ll see at “maximum eclipse.” Of course, there are factors that could screw it up — clouds mostly.

There are several websites that offers do’s, don’ts and tips on viewing an eclipse. Lowe’s in Sanford — as well as other places — have begun selling glasses that allow you to view the sun directly during the event.

No events (such as viewing parties) have been scheduled locally, yet (we’ll update when they are), but the Morehead Planetarium at UNC Chapel Hill has scheduled a big science-y fun event for Aug. 21.

Happy viewing.

 

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