5 Amazing Facts You Must Know About the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st

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Top Tier Gear USA

solar eclipse

The countdown to a rare celestial spectacle is on. On August 21st, people within the “path of totality,” a 70-mile wide swath of land stretching from Oregon to South Carolina (14 states in all), will witness a total solar eclipse. The shadow of the moon will start in the Pacific ocean and travel at Mach 1.5 speeds across the continental U.S., creating an ethereal light show that eclipse hunters swear is unlike any other naturally occurring phenomenon. Eclipse enthusiasts describe the experience as transcendent, even life-changing.

Here are five things to know about the upcoming phenomenon:

1. A total solar eclipse is the result of a remarkable cosmic coincidence.

The incredible serendipity of a total solar eclipse on Earth is difficult to fathom. For the brief few minutes of a totality, the Sun and the Moon occupy the exact same space in our sky, perfectly overlapping one another. How is this possible? While the sun’s diameter is 400 times the size of the moon’s, the moon is 400 times closer to us. The phenomenon is unlikely to exist for any of the other planets in our solar system and may be fairly unique to the Earth. While other stars and planets assuredly have their own distinct celestial marvels, a total solar eclipse is one of our cosmic home’s special treasures.

2. The eclipse offers a rare glimpse of the sun’s secret majesty.

The light show that occurs during a total solar eclipse is unlike any other natural phenomena, which is why scientists flock to and study the event in droves. With a clear sky, a total solar eclipse affords spectators a rare, unfiltered glimpse of the sun’s outermost layer, a million-degree halo of plasma that flairs and contorts under the powerful grasp of the magnetosphere. For a few precious minutes, our star reveals its ethereal beauty, including “Baily’s Beads,” prominences, coronal streamers and, if you’re lucky, coronal ejections. Baily’s Beads create a diamond ring effect that has inspired many paramours to propose marriage during totality (an act that an eclipse enthusiast might have found annoying).

Those not in the path of totality can still study rare shadows cast off of Earth-bound objects, including trees that cast off crescent shapes in the twilight.

3. The event, known colloquially as a syzygy, requires the observer to complete the phenomena.

An alignment of 3 or more celestial bodies is known as a syzygy. In this case, the total solar eclipse includes the sun, the moon, and the human observer. Not all of the Earth will rest in the path of totality, so the completion of the triage requires an intentional act

4. The last time there was a total solar eclipse visible only in the United States was in 1776.

The August 21st eclipse is especially rare because it is the first continent-wide eclipse to be viewable only in the United States since the same year the country came into existence. Additionally, it’s the first time since 1918 that an eclipse’s path of totality stretched unbroken from one coast to the other.

5. In 600 million years, total solar eclipses will no longer occur.

Because tidal friction gradually changes the Moon’s proximity to us, total solar eclipses weren’t always visible from the Earth and, in the distant future, perfect alignment of our sun and moon will no longer take place.


NASA estimates that around 300 million people will experience the eclipse first-hand, though not everyone will be in the path of totality. The sun’s light is so powerful that even those experiencing a 99.9% partial eclipse will not get the full effect.

Eclipses are profound cosmic events that have mesmerized humans throughout history. As early as 1050 B.C., Chinese astronomers recorded them using “oracle bones.” In 1918, Sir Arthur Eddington Einstein studied a total solar eclipse to prove part of Einstein’s  general theory of relativity by displaying how gravity bends light.

If you’re near the path of totality, you have a rare opportunity to gaze upon what eluded Canadian astronomer and eclipse chaser J.W. Campbell, who spent 50 years trying to experience a total solar eclipse only to see overcast skies 12 different times. For more information on the best spots to view the eclipse on August 21st, this site breaks down the path of totality.

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  • breakawaymotorsports .

    Life changing?? Seriously??? Am I the only one who could not care any less about an eclipse? I’m more impressed by a bolt of lightning..

    • gabe

      I predict rain.

    • gazoo3

      Some researchers say eclipses signify an increase in spiritual enlightenment.

    • How much silent lightning have you seen?
      There is very seldom any thunder heard here.

      • How much thunder have you seen?

        • None, since I’ve never had synesthesia or taken LSD.
          Silent lightning is extremely common in Wyoming, as is that which never reaches the ground instead of dancing in the clouds.

          • I’ve taken LSD and it ain’t as you’ve been told.

          • Synesthesia is one of the best documented effects of LSD.

          • Well, far be to for me to argue with documentation!

          • I went online to make sure I wasn’t confusing things, and found out that there is a current discussion about whether natural synesthesia is caused by the same mechanism as LSD-induced, so the causational documentation might be in transition, FWIW.

          • You know, Dr. Leary had a theory…but we kids were just trying to get a buzz on, and weren’t caring about all that. I never saw any sounds or even hallucinated much, but oh how we laughed!
            I think many str8s listened to too much Moody Blues and believed too much hype. Y’all didn’t miss a thing. Acid was an hour or two of induced happiness and 6 or 7 hours of fear that one’s brain was going to be “stuck” that way forever, at least it was for me. It’s not that difficult to produce in a lab, but few who imbibed in those old days would choose to do so again today. In the modern vernacular, it wasn’t “all that”.

  • lee ho fook

    what interests me is that the last total was in 1776! The omens look good, patriots! Lock & load & get ready to take back your country before they totally take it from you….

  • Rick

    The last time there was a total solar eclipse visible only in the United States was in 1776.

    The August 21st eclipse is especially rare because
    it is the first continent-wide eclipse to be viewable only in the
    United States since the same year the country came into existence.
    Additionally, it’s the first time since 1918 that an eclipse’s path of
    totality stretched unbroken from one coast to the other.

    Interesting ,one at our country’s beginning and one at our demise? Hmmmm….

    • gazoo3

      Eclipses are a time of spiritual enlightenment according to some researchers.

      • Do they also predict multiple postings of the same information?

      • Red Tick Alert

        Actually we had one in the UK and parts of Europe around 2000 or so, it is unbelievable as everything stops especially the bids and animals.

        • gazoo3

          Check this out. He talks about how Stone Henge was constructed to predict eclipses.

          • Red Tick Alert

            No just the opposite. There are thousands of sites around the World that somehow, even to this day … thinking of words now….. both entice and absorb the summer solstice; it really is quite amazing.

            You could be right about the eclipses, but that is outside my knowledge base at the moment; I’ll be back to you on it, but !!!

            Cheers for now.

          • gazoo3

            I’m no expert but the video is interesting.

          • Red Tick Alert

            Fair play. But let me get you some links tomorrow on the Summer Solstice – remind me please.

    • I’m pretty sure the united States were created in 1776 but the United States was created in 1788.

      • The Constitution was ratified on September 17th, 1787, creating the new government.

        • Correct.
          (notice the linking verbs in my above comment, and the adjective vs the proper noun)

  • John Cook

    Look out for Aliens (in blacked out limos) here to see Earth’s major Interstellar tourist attraction – the almost unique in the galaxy Total Eclipse.
    Of course insiders know it was arranged that when being built just to prove it’s not Natural.