WASHINGTON - In just two short weeks, the mainland United States will be in for a rare treat when a total solar eclipse takes a rarely seen path, traversing the country from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. While the "zone of totality"-- the region where the moon will completely obscure the sun-- will be well south of the Washington, D.C. region, our area will still witness a beautiful partial eclipse the likes have which have not been seen since the 1970s.
As quickly as it begins though, it will also end. The skies will darken for only a few minutes, you want to be sure you are ready to go when the time arrives. Here are some important times to remember for the upcoming solar eclipse:
1. The date: August 21st, 2017
Circle this day on your calendar! If you miss this one, you'll have to wait seven more years (until April 2024) before another partial solar eclipse will be seen in our region.
2. 12:05 pm EDT
The first signs of the eclipse will start to be seen just off Lincoln Beach, Oregon (9:05 am PDT).
3. 1:19 pm EDT
Totality begins on the western coastline (10:19 am PDT), with darkness lasting only a quick 2 minutes before the sun begins to return once again from behind the moon.
4. 1:17 pm EDT
Here in D.C., the first signs of the moon beginning to overtake the sun will be visible on the right side of the sun.
5. 2:10 pm EDT
Enough of the sun will be covered by the moon that it will begin to effect the visible daylight. You will begin to notice the skies getting visibly darker around this time.
6. 2:42 pm EDT
The main event! At this time, 81 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon, the peak coverage for our location. Street lights may kick on as mid-afternoon daylight briefly turns to twilight. The sensation will be brief, only lasting a couple minutes, before the moon continues its journey across the sky.
7. 3:10 pm EDT
Daylight has generally returned to the entire region as the more than half of the sun is now unobscured.
8. 4:02 pm EDT
The solar eclipse of 2017 comes to an end in the D.C. region, along with most along the eastern half of the United States.
If you plan to watch the eclipse, those are the times you need to know. Unlike a weather forecast, a solar eclipse is a guarantee and is therefore easy for predict down to the very minute. The weather itself of course will be a concern, as a cloudy or rainy afternoon can absolutely ruin the eclipse, so keep your fingers crossed for clear weather!
We should begin to get a decent idea of what type of weather we are dealing with about a week before the actual event, so be sure to check back for the latest details.
Watching from somewhere outside of the DC area? Click here to find out what you can expect where you are.
PLEASE REMEMBER: You need special glasses if you plan to watch the partial eclipse as it crosses our region. Regular sunglasses are NOT sufficient. You could do serious damage to your eyes without the proper protection.
These can be picked up for free at the National Air and Space Museum, the National Zoo, and a number of different public libraries across our region. You can also buy them from sites such as Amazon and Walmart, but be careful when you're buying online. NASA recently issued a warning about fake glasses that won't protect your eyes properly. Click here for more information.