The year our founder started our company, 1819, there were three partial eclipses. The following year, a total eclipse. Coincidence? Maybe. Eclipses have been fascinating and frightening the earthâ€™s population going back to ancient times. Most civilizations of days past considered them a sign of doom and gloom predicted generally bad things to come. One exception is a story about a battle between the Medes and the Lydians in the sixth century B.C. that took place during a total eclipse. Both sides took the darkening sky as a sign that they should make peace, so they did just that.
Today, most people are aware that thereâ€™s nothing to fear about eclipses except for looking at them directly (always use special glasses made for eclipse viewing, or make an old school viewer by following these directions.) As the country gears up for the Great American Eclipse as itâ€™s being called (since most of the U.S. will experience itâ€™s effects) on Monday, August 21, hereâ€™s some fun facts and trivia about the event and eclipses in general.
*There are 12 states that will offer the best viewing of the total eclipse, provided the skies are cloud-free: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Thatâ€™s because the eclipseâ€™s path will travel from the northwest to the southeast, but most of the U.S. will experience it; they just wonâ€™t see a total eclipse, but a partial one depending on the location.
*Those viewing the eclipse in the path of its totality should experience the height of darkness for 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds.
*This is the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years. The last one that was visible by most of the U.S. took place on February 26, 1979, and not everyone was lucky enough to witness it because of cloudy skies.
*Nashville will be the American city with the best view. The city center and sections north should experience over two minutes of totality.
*A solar eclipse can only take place during a new moon. The eclipse happens when the moon is in between the sun and the earth and that can only happen during the new moon lunar phase.
*Both the sun and the moon appear to be the same size during an eclipse; of course, our daytime star has a diameter 400 times that of our moon.
*In places experiencing totality, the birds may eerily stop chirping (thinking that itâ€™s nightfall) and you may even see stars in the daytime sky. Itâ€™s also not unusual to experience a drop in temperature of up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
*This astronomical event is visible to the naked eye. No telescope or binoculars needed but again, be safe and view through special eclipse glasses or a viewer.
*This will be the most viewed eclipse in history, not just due to the population levels but because of the prevalence of social media, news coverage, and online sharing.
*The next total solar eclipse that will include most of the U.S. will occur on April 8, 2024, with a path that runs from southwest to northeast.