NASA Counts Down to August Solar Eclipse

(CN) – Millions of Americans will be able to see the cosmos dance their way across the nation without interruption for the first time in 99 years on Aug. 21, and NASA is preparing for the upcoming solar eclipse with safety tips and plans to live-stream the event.

“The eclipse will provide a unique opportunity to study the sun, Earth, moon and their interaction because of the eclipse’s long path over land coast to coast,” the National Air and Space Agency said in a statement. “Scientists will be able to take ground-based and airborne observations over a period of an hour and a half to complement the wealth of data and images provided by space assets.”

NASA held a press conference Wednesday featuring logistics and science briefings at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

“During our busy lives, sometimes we forget that we’re sitting on a planet that’s turning on its axis with a celestial body right next to it that was ripped out of the planet really late in its’ formation, our moon. And everything is based in the casus and the fields of our star, the sun. The most important star for us, because it gives us life, it is supporting everything we do but it’s also the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of all stars,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Zurbuchen added, “The eclipse is important because these bodies come into alignment in a cosmic moment that we are all being part of. These cosmic moments where nature speaks to us in an emotional way, sometimes come loud, like thunderstorms, storms, hurricanes and earthquakes, but this one… will be silent. Day will turn into night and back again. The sun will not know about the eclipse. But you will.”

Fourteen states across the U.S. will experience more than two minutes of darkness over the course of 100 minutes on Aug. 21.

A partial eclipse will be visible throughout all of North America.

The path of totality, where the moon will completely cover the sun and its corona, will span from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., and pass through portions of 14 states. The path is thin, only around 70 miles wide.

According to NASA, the first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Ore., at 9:05 a.m. PST. Totality there begins at 10:16 a.m.

The eclipse will then cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina over the following hour and a half.

The total eclipse will then end near Charleston at 2:48 p.m. EST, before the lunar shadow leaves the U.S. at 4:09 EST, according to the space agency.

The longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any point along its path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds, and will take place near Carbondale, Ill., NASA says.

The U.S. Postal Service has released a special postage stamp for the event. Heat from one’s finger changes the moon on the sticker to an eclipse.

NASA urges spectators to not to have “an eclipse in judgment” while viewing and to wear proper safety glasses.

The hashtag #eclipse2017 is being utilized throughout the social media sphere to commemorate the event that won’t happen again until April 2024.

NASA has provided safety tips for viewing the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon and will provide a non-stop live stream of the event across the country through a variety of ground and space-based assets, including airplanes, satellites, balloons and telescopes.

“This is a really amazing chance to open the public’s eye to wonder and get people to think about the amazing natural phenomenon on the surface of the earth that is a solar eclipse,” said Angela Des Jardins, principal investigator of the Eclipse Ballooning Project at Montana State University.

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