– By MADELINE SCHINDLER, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s the sensation sweeping the nation.
An eclipse of the sun, which will be a total eclipse along a broad path of the country, can be seen on Aug. 21.
The eclipse will reach its peak in Georgia at just after 2:30 p.m.
Though the path of “totality” is fairly narrow and doesn’t include Coweta, “Everyone in the U.S. will see a partial eclipse,” said amateur astronomer and Grantville area Steven “Smitty” Smith.
“Basically, the partial eclipse will make the sun appear to have a bite taken out of it.”
Retired Newnan High School chemistry teacher and former University of West Georgia - Newnan astronomy instructor Susan Smith explained that “an eclipse occurs when a celestial object comes between two other celestial bodies.”
“In our case, the moon will move between the sun and earth, casting its shadow onto part of the earth’s surface. This is called a solar eclipse,” she said. “The only time a solar eclipse can occur is during a new moon.”
People out west will have the best visibility for viewing the eclipse, especially those living west of the Mississippi River. According to Mr. Smith, viewing conditions are best there due to clearer skies and less likelihood of dreary weather.
Following an hour-long partial eclipse comes totality – when the sun’s light is completely blocked by the moon.
“The closest we can get to seeing the total eclipse (or the eclipse in totality) is the Blue Ridge region of north Georgia, Tennessee, and the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina,” said Mr. Smith.
The nature of a solar eclipse is the reason the area of totality is so small.
“Suppose that an airplane flies overhead. It will cast a shadow, which will only appear directly beneath the plane as it travels overhead,” said Susan Smith.
This is essentially a similar instance for why the northeastern part of Georgia will have the best view in the state.
As the moon passes between the earth and the un, the moon will cast a shadow, causing the eclipse to appear east to west.
While Newnan is not in the path of totality, we should be able to see around 90 percent of the partial eclipse. A map on GreatAmericanEclipse.com indicates that the city of Atlanta will “experience a maximum of 97.3 percent partial eclipse.”
“It will be almost a total eclipse here, just not quite,” Susan Smith said. Only those in the area of totality will be able to see the corona, the sun’s atmosphere.
Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclipse are advised to take precautions and protect their eyes.
No matter how dark the shade, sunglasses should not be used to view the eclipse. Instead, protect your eyes by wearing eclipse glasses, which can be purchased online for less than $5.
According to Mr. Smith, the only other approved eye protection for viewing an eclipse is #14 welder’s glass.
“Your eyes won’t feel pain when you view the Sun without eye protection, but it will still impair your vision and may cause blindness,” said Mr. Smith.
Eye protection must be worn to view both the partial eclipse and total eclipse. Once the moon entirely blocks the sun’s light (reaches totality) eye protection isn’t needed.
The eclipse is expected to be a huge event for travelers, so plan ahead for traffic.
“If you have the chance to see it, do,” said Mr. Smith.
The next eclipse is anticipated to occur in 2024.