The solar eclipse that will occur on August 21, 2017, is rare.  It is the first eclipse to even touch the United States since 1979.  The last eclipse to cross the United States occured in 1918.  The United States is the only country that will be touched by this eclipse. It is the first eclipse that is exclusive to the United States.  A total eclipse of the sun will occur in Lawrence every 400 years or so, according to Dr. Dave Besson, KU Physics professor and astronomy enthusiast.

Besson explained that the view of the eclipse in Lawrence will be only 98% “totality” as the lunar shadow slides across the sun.  Many people are expected to travel to locations where they can see “totality,” a point where the sun is completely eclipsed by the moon.  The path of totality will be about 70 miles wide, arcing across the United States from the Northwest to the Southeast.  The eclipse will sail across Oregon, Wyoming, and Nebraska, cut across a corner of Kansas, go over Missouri, and parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, and then pass over South Carolina.  Moving at 1,000 miles per hour, the eclipse totality will last about two-and-a-half minutes at any particular point on the path of totality.

The phenomenon of total eclipse is rare because the earth and the moon are on different planes relative to the sun, Besson explained.  Eclipses occur when the moon is closest to earth.  Since the moon is receding from the earth by .8 cm/year and the earth’s spin is slowing down, eclipses will happen less often in the future.  Besson’s advice?  “Keep calm and hope it’s not cloudy.”