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Monday, August 7, 2017
Total Solar Eclipse - August 2017
When is the solar eclipse in August 2017? Date, time and how to watch it LIVE.
A spectacular solar eclipse will grace the skies in August
Next month, people around the world will witness a rare celestial event - a solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun.
Those who are standing directly in the moon's shadow on Earth on August 21, will see the disc of the moon move slowly in front of the sun until it covers it completely, leaving only a burning ring of light around the edge.
Those who are not in the right place to witness a total eclipse may still see a partial eclipse. The sky will darken and the temperature will drop, as the moon obscures part of the sun from view.
Solar eclipses don't come along every day, so if you're keen to see the spectacle, it's worth planning ahead to make sure you're in a good position for when it happens.
Here's what you need to know about the 2017 total solar eclipse.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, obscuring the sun from view.
When the disk of the moon appears to completely cover the disk of the sun in the sky, it is known as a total solar eclipse. If part of the sun is still visible, it is known as a partial solar eclipse.
Solar eclipses occur because the moon orbits the Earth at an average of 239,000 miles - which is just the right distance for it to appear the same size in the sky as the much larger sun, which is 93 million miles away.
The amazing coincidence means that, when the moon passes in front of the sun, it is appears to cover it perfectly.
Where can I watch the solar eclipse?
The best place to see the solar eclipse is in the United States. The so-called "path of totality", which describes the areas where a total solar eclipse is visible, passes right through the middle of the country.
If you want to see a total eclipse, you'll need to be in one of 11 US states - including Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The rest of the United States will witness a partial solar eclipse. The amount that the moon covers the sun will vary depending on where the viewer is standing.
A for those of us in the UK, we will also witness a partial solar eclipse - although it may be a little underwhelming, as only 4% of the sun will be covered by the moon.
The total solar eclipse will of course be available to view live on the NASA website .
What time is the solar eclipse?
The eclipse will begin over the Pacific Ocean at 15:46 GMT on August 21.
It will reach the coast of Oregon at Lincoln City, just west of Salem, at 16:04 GMT (09:04 local time). The eclipse will reach its maximum point here at 17:17 GMT (10:17 local time).
From here, the Moon's central shadow will move inland across Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
It will reaching the town of Charleston, South Carolina at 17.16 GMT (13:16 local time), and will reach its maximum point at 18:47 GMT (14:47 local time), before moving out into the Atlantic Ocean.
For those watching in the UK, the eclipse will start shortly after 18:30 GMT (19:30 local time), and reach its maximum at about 19:00 GMT (20:00 local time).
As the eclipse occurs very close to sunset in the UK, those in the north have the best chance of seeing it, as it will be lighter for longer.
Solar Eclipse map
NASA has produced an interactive map to show the path of the eclipse and give information on the best times to see it.
Why do you need special glasses?
Looking directly at the sun can damage your eyes, so if you're planning to watch the solar eclipse, you should get a pair of solar viewing glasses.
These have special-purpose solar filters, which filter out all of the harmful ultraviolet and infrared light and almost all of the intense visible light to allow you to view the eclipse safely.
A whole range of companies are offering solar eclipse glasses which have a filter to protect your eyes, but you need to make sure they are safety tested and CE approved.
If you can't find CE-approved glasses, don't rely on regular sunglasses - they won't protect you. Instead it's worth looking at other techniques, such as pinhole projection.
When was the last solar eclipse?
The last solar eclipse that was visible in the UK was on 20 March 2015.
The eclipse was total across the north Atlantic including the Faroe Islands resulted in a large partial eclipse across the UK - greater than 80% everywhere.
While the line of totality didn't touch land in the United Kingdom, it passed less than ten kilometres to the north-west of the island of Rockall.
In the US, there hasn't been a total solar eclipse since 1979.