There’s a rare event coming to Florida, and no, it’s not a snowstorm.
You might have heard about a little something called a solar eclipse coming our way. Well, not our way exactly, but across the continental U.S., including Florida, on August 21 2017.
In case you don’t know, a solar eclipse is when the moon is directly in between the sun and the Earth, blocking out the former from the perspective of certain viewers. It’s a very rare event: the last total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. occurred in the ‘70s.
Unfortunately, you won’t see a total eclipse anywhere in the state, but all of Florida will see a partial eclipse. As far as who here gets to see the largest portion of the sun covered, Jacksonville wins the day at 90.5%.
Whether you’re interested in traveling to see the total solar eclipse or just staying home and enjoying the still-amazing spectacle, we’ve got some tips and info for you before August 21.
Where (and When) to See It
There is a strip of land across the continental U.S. that will be able to witness a total solar eclipse, the first such opportunity in about a century. That strip of land, which you can see on a map from NASA, stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. All of North America and parts of South America, Europe, and Africa will be able to see at least a partial version of the special event.
Floridians who want to see the total eclipse in all its splendor will need to make the drive. South Carolina is likely the closest destination, but northern Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky also fall within the “Total Belt.”
If you’re not traveling, you can still expect to see a spectacle. Different parts of Florida will see different amounts of the sun covered, but nowhere less than 70%.
As for when the eclipse will be visible on August 21, start times are as early as 1:10 ET in Tallahassee, peaking around 2:45 or 2:50, and finishing around 4:15. Check out the chart on this page to find exact times for your area.
How to Watch It (Safely)
No matter where you watch the eclipse, you shouldn’t go into the day uninformed about how to watch. What does that mean? you might ask. Can’t I just lift my head up and enjoy a really cool thing happening in the sky?
Yes, but no is the answer. In any article you read about watching the solar eclipse, you’re likely to see a giant warning to never, ever look at the sun directly. We almost did the same thing, but we decided to just underline the words instead.
It’s true, though: if you try to watch the eclipse directly, you’ll risk serious damage to your eyes. And sunglasses, it seems, are not adequate for the job.
So what should you do? You’ve still got a little bit of time, so check out this list of NASA-recommended vendors of solar eclipse glasses. Alternatively, you can take a visit to your local science center and ask where appropriate glasses are being sold.
Our main advice is to be safe. Either purchase appropriate eyewear, or take a glance at the event and then watch on technology.
Beyond safety, if you are in a position to be outside and watching the eclipse for a measure of time, consider enjoying the phenomenon as naturally as possible. In other words, don’t miss the breathtaking event itself by trying to capture it—with cameras, status updates, and the like.
Finally, as First Coast News said in an article, hope for no clouds! If clouds are covering the sun during the eclipse, there aren’t any do-overs. We won’t be able to see the phenomenon. Talk about putting some pressure on the weather…
Enjoy the rare event, everyone, and stay safe!
By: Ryan Drawdy
August 15, 2017