On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible across a huge swath of the United States, and Alliance is right on the center Path of Totality. This is the first solar eclipse over the continental United States in 40 years. Alliance is located directly on the path of totality and we will be celebrating the event with the following programs:
Thursday, April 20th at 6:30 p.m. ~ Join astronomer Dr. Martina Arndt from Massachusett’s Bridgewater State University. Dr. Arndt will be leading a team of researchers who will be staying here to study this major astronomical event. Dr. Arndt’s program is open to the public and will be held in the High School’s PAC due to the high level of community interest.
What is a Solar Eclipse? A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. It’s a partial eclipse if you can still see part of the Sun. But every few hundred years, an area might be in the Path of Totality, which means the sun is entirely covered.
In Alliance we will be able to see the Moon cover the Sun gradually, starting at 10:27 am. Then at 11:49 am, we will experience a Total Eclipse for two and a half minutes!
In Alliance, right on the center of the Path of Totality, at 10:27:07 am we’ll have first contact, where the moon begins to cross in front of the sun. It will gradually move across the sun, and at 11:49:09 am we’ll see a beautiful diamond ring. The sun will be completely covered for two minutes thirty seconds. Then another diamond ring as the sun begins to reappear. The moon will continue to cross over the sun until 1:16:40 pm.
While the sun is completely covered – the total eclipse – the sky will go dark. We’ll see stars and planets. The temperature will drop. Confused birds will roost. An amazing experience – so much more than a partial eclipse! The beautiful corona will first appear with red dots, then we’ll see the rays of the sun’s atmosphere. Every corona looks different depending on magnetic fields, sun spots, and atmospheric conditions.
Total eclipses are rare occurrences, and most of us will never get to see another one. We were in the path of a total eclipse in 310, 1834, and will be again in 2744, so this is not a common occurrence. We can see partial eclipses every ten years or so.
Because total solar eclipses are so rare, and so magnificent, Alliance is expecting several thousand visitors that weekend. Community members have been organizing events to help us prepare.
Special safety precautions must be taken to view the eclipse and prevent damage to the eye.
“Don’t look directly at the sun! You can go blind!”
Actually, that’s true. Your retina, in the back of your eyeball, is light sensitive, and looking directly at the sun can damage rods and cones. Too much intense light can cause blindness, temporary or permanent. So you never look directly at the sun. But during an eclipse, you want to look directly at the sun, because you want to see it disappear. Then you want to enjoy the corona, the special light show that will surround the dark hole that is the moon blocking the sun. What is the solution?
Special eclipse sunglasses. These are NOT Sunglasses. They are 1,000 times darker than sunglasses. And what do they cost? You can get the really stylish ones that are cardboard with special plastic lenses for $2.00 at the Chamber office. And yes, they work great! Maybe you’ll attend an event where the glasses are given away. If you don’t like glasses, you can get eclipse viewers, 3×5 cards with the special extra-dark plastic material that allows direct viewing of the sun.
Welder’s glass. Yes, you can wear a welding helmet – looking pretty spacey! But the glass has to be number 14 welder’s glass to protect your eyes. The standard green welding glass doesn’t do enough to protect your eyes from the infrared light.
But guess what! When the sun is fully eclipsed (two and a half minutes in Alliance) you get to take your special glasses off! (Do this when you see the Diamond Ring.) You’ll see the black hole in the sky, surrounded by the sun’s corona. This looks different with every eclipse, depending on the sun’s magnetic field and activity. You’ll see red dots, then beautiful silver arcs. You’ll also get to see stars and planets. People will be yelling, laughing, crying. This is so awe-inspiring that people travel all around the world to experience it.