What’s the Big Deal About an Eclipse?

solar eclipse
A partial solar eclipse is when the moon partially covers the sun.
solar eclipse
The moon casts a shadow on Earth during a solar eclipse.

What’s the big deal about a solar eclipse? They actually happen every year somewhere on Earth but this one will cover the lower 48 states of our country. It’s not just interesting, it’s science. Chief Meteorologist Alan Sealls explains.

The sun is our nearest star but it holds many mysteries. That’s why scientists are looking forward to the total eclipse. It’s more than a spectacle. Features like prominences and helmet streamers will become clear.

Jamie Ellis, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador says, “All of this is only visible when it’s in totality, because in regular sunlight the atmosphere of the sun is not easily seen, very, very little, but when we have totality, this event really allows us to get data.”

An eclipse might be dark but it sheds light on the universe.

“A solar eclipse is when the moon comes between the Earth and the sun , and the outer lines of them, where they cross, is totality. The one thing you never want to happen is have the sun in between the Earth and moon. That is apocalyptic!”

Alan Sealls, News 5

eclipse paths
Map of total eclipse paths through 2050

2024 is the next total eclipse for the United States but it will be a partial eclipse here. When is the next total solar eclipse here? You have to wait until August 12, 2045!

The last total solar eclipse for the Mobile area was in 1900. Read about that here.

See calendars and maps for all future eclipses from NASA here.

Astronomer Dr. Angela Speck details eclipse science in Physics Today.

eclipse paths
Map of eclipse paths through 2020

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