On August 21st the first total solar eclipse for the US in 38 years will be seen by tens of millions of people. On that Monday, the central United States will watch the moon pass directly in front of the midday sun to block it out. Day will turn to night for a few minutes starting in the Pacific Northwest and ending in the Southeast. The full shadow of the moon, known as the path of totality, will go from Oregon through Nebraska through South Carolina.
North and south of that line, the sky will darken a lot but the moon will not totally block the sun. That’s known as a partial eclipse. The farther away you are from the path of totality, the less of the sun will be blocked.
In Mobile, the partial eclipse starts at 12:01 pm. It reaches the maximum at 1:33 pm when the sun is 81% blocked by the moon. The partial eclipse ends at 3:00pm. If you are north of Mobile you’ll have more of the sun covered. See the chart below.
From west to east, there won’t be a much difference in the timing across the News 5 area. The peak of the eclipse is at 1:33 pm in Mobile. In southern Mississippi everything is a little earlier, and in the Florida Panhandle, it is a few minutes later. This will be a very slow event so the exact times are not critical.
|LOCATION||START||PEAK / PERCENT||END|
|Mobile, AL||12:01 pm||1:33 pm / 81%||3:00 pm|
|Lucedale, MS||11:59 am||1:31 pm / 81%||2:58 pm|
|Chatom, AL||12:00 pm||1:32 pm / 84%||2:59 pm|
|Thomasville, AL||12:00 pm||1:32 pm / 86%||2:59 pm|
|Evergreen, AL||12:03 pm||1:35 pm / 85%||3:01 pm|
|Brewton, AL||12:03 pm||1:35 pm / 84%||3:02 pm|
|Foley, AL||12:02 pm||1:35 pm / 81%||3:02 pm|
|Pensacola, FL||12:03 pm||1:36 pm / 82%||3:02 pm|
|Destin, FL||12:05 pm||1:37 pm / 83%||3:04 pm|
Here’s an interactive map where you can see times and percentages for different parts of our area, and the rest of the country.
As the sky darkens you’ll notice the temperature fall a little. You might also see and hear animals and insects going into the evening or night cycle of their daily routines. Keep in mind that it could be a cloudy day where you are but the sky will still darken. More than a few days in advance, it will be hard to know if much of your sky might have clouds in it. Here’s an interactive tool that gives you cloudiness averages for that August 21. Always get your latest forecast on News 5 or on our weather app or on wkrg.com
WARNING: Do not look directly at the partial eclipse sun. That can cause permanent damage to your eyes. Do not look at it through sunglasses, binoculars, or a telescope. You must get special glasses known as “eclipse viewing glasses”, found in stores locally for a few dollars. Search online for “ISO 12312-2 glasses”. Here’s what you need to know to keep your eyes safe during the eclipse. #14 welders glass may also be used to view the eclipse.
Make sure you don’t damage your camera either taking pictures of the sun. Here are some good photography tips that could save your camera and save your eyes..
Use facts, not myths to safely experience the eclipse. Here’s a long list of myths from NASA.
NASA also has a long list of answers to frequently asked questions about solar eclipses.
The sun is over 100 times larger than Earth. The moon is only about a quarter of the size of Earth. The moon is able to block the sun because the moon is much closer to Earth than the sun. The sun is more than 90 million miles from Earth. The moon is only a quarter million miles away!
Why don’t we have more total eclipses? The orbit of the moon around Earth is not perfectly circular, and the orbit also is not in the same plane as the orbit of the Earth around the sun. Only every once in a while does everything line up. Watch this video from NASA that explains.