In case you haven't heard, a total solar eclipse is happening soon.
On 21 August, the Moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun, blotting out our view of the star. Unfortunately, only Americans - or people in the US - will be able to look up and see the "total solar eclipse" in person. They'll need to be along the path of totality, where the moon will temporarily block the sun, and they'll need a special gadget and clear skies in order to experience the action.
In other words, only few people will be able to see it in person. But, it's 2017, and there's this thing called the internet, which will allow any interested spectator from around the world to just hop online and stream the rare event from the comfort of their couch. Either way, here's the lowdown on how you can watch the solar eclipse from anywhere on the planet.
When is the solar eclipse?
The solar eclipse is happening on 21 August 2017. If you're watching in person, the time of the solar eclipse will depend on your location (more on that below). Anyone in North America will be able to view at least a partial solar eclipse, while the millions of people within the 70-mile-wide path of totality from Oregon to South Carolina will get to see the total eclipse in person. Lucky them.
Why is the solar eclipse important?
You'll want to catch the solar eclipse because A) Space stuff is really cool... duh... and B) Monday will mark the first time a total solar eclipse will be viewable above the contiguous US since 1979, and even then, totality was only visible for a select few in the country.
Can you see the solar eclipse in person?
First thing is first: Figure out whether you can see the solar eclipse in person. That's where this site comes in handy:
Type in the address you will be viewing the solar eclipse from, and the site will tell you not only whether you can see the total solar eclipse or a partial eclipse but also the exact time and how long it will last for, complete with graphics depicting the timeline and sequence of events.
What do you need to watch the solar eclipse?
If you are watching the solar eclipse in person, you need a pair of eclipse glasses (or a safe viewing device). It is harmful to your eyes to stare at the sun, and even if you try, you really won’t be able to see anything without dark glasses to filter out most of the sunlight. Just make sure they are ISO-approved eclipse glasses (ISO is an independent organisation that writes safety and quality standards).
Where can you find solar eclipse glasses?
The American Astronomical Society has published a list of reputable retailers and manufacturers selling solar eclipse glasses. The list includes Lunt Solar Systems, American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, etc. Keep in mind the AAS recommended that you look for the ISO 12312-2 safety standard. Here's a few more places you can pick them up, including some places that are giving them away for free:
- NASA is giving away free glasses at official events across the country. You can use this map to find an event near you.
- Eyeglass store Warby Parker is also giving away free glasses. You can use this map to find a store near you.
- The convenience store 7-Eleven is selling approved glasses nationwide, but many other retail chains are as well, including Bi-Mart, Casey's General Store, Circle K, Hobby Town, Kirklands, Kroger, Love's Travel Stops, Lowe's, Menards, Pilot/Flying J, Toys "R" Us, and Walmart.
- And finally, some libraries part of the STAR-Net program have a limited number of eclipse glasses. To find a library near you that’s giving away glasses for free, you can use this map.
- Amazon, of course, is selling solar eclipse glasses.
- Here's a few others: 123 Sales, 3Dstereo.com, Educational Innovations, Electronic Analyst, Firefly Buys (FFB), Fred Meyer, Freedom Hill, Mega-Fun Toys, Off the Wall Toys & Gifts, Run to Shop, Skyhawk Ventures, Soluna/GSM Sales, and Squirrellynuts.
- Just do a quick Google search and you'll easily find more sites.
Can you stream the solar eclipse online?
Yes, you can watch a live-stream of the solar eclipse. Here's how:
NASA is going all-out, with plans to stream live coverage of the event from 12 pm EST to 4 pm EST from 12 different locations around the continental US. It's using 57 high-altitude balloons to capture views of the eclipse, and it's also using research aircraft and ground-based telescopes. NASA will host its webcast on Ustream and social media channels, including Facebook.
But that's not all: The US space agency will also host another webcast through NASA EDGE from 11:45 am EST to 4 pm EST from Carbondale, Illinois, which will experience totality for a whipping 2 minutes and 38 seconds. That stream will be available on Ustream and Facebook Live.
Twitter has partnered with The Weather Channel to live stream the Moon's shadow as it travels from the West Coast to the East Coast of the States. The stream will start at 12 pm EST and will include live footage from US cities in Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming. The stream will be hosted by meteorologists Ari Sarsalari and Domenica Davis.
CNN (in VR)
CNN will stream 360-degree video as part of its special coverage for the event starting at 1 pm EST. The network said the immersive livestream will be enhanced by "real-time graphics, close-up views of the sun, and experts from the science community joining along the way to explain the significance of this phenomenon". To watch it, go to CNN's mobile app or Facebook page.