There are many scientists who say a total solar eclipse is among the most spectacular sights you can see in the sky. On Monday, August 21, a solar eclipse will cut across the entire United States. And wherever you are, you will be able to see it. Even though the totality – the area where the sun is completely blocked out by the moon – is only 70 miles while, the whole country (even Alaska and Hawaii) will experience a partial eclipse.
Here at Sunnova, we’ve already started the countdown to this rare celestial event. It is a great excuse to step outside in the summer and see a glimpse of the stars in the middle of the day. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind to get yourself prepared for this spectacular event.
What is a total solar eclipse?
A total solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the sun and Earth and lasting for up to three hours from the beginning to end. The lunar shadow darkens the sky, temperatures drop and stars will appear during a time that’s normally broad daylight. During the August eclipse, the longest period when the moon obscures the sun's entire surface from any given location along its path will last about two minutes and 40 seconds.
What's the big deal about a solar eclipse?
We all know, at least in the back of our minds, that we're living on a giant ball that revolves around a hot ball of gas, and we're somehow floating in space. But when you see a total solar eclipse, where everything lines up, and suddenly there's instant nighttime. Planets pop up, and sometimes you can see Mercury and Venus, maybe even Mars and Jupiter. It’s like the pictures from your middle school textbooks. So, it moves the concept from just an idea in your head to a total experience, and you may just have a better appreciation of where you are in the solar system.
What makes it so special?
The August eclipse is especially extraordinary because it's the first time the path of totality exclusively crosses the continental United States from coast to coast since June 8, 1918. That’s nearly 100 years!
Who can see it?
NASA estimates more than 300 million people in the United States could potentially directly view the total solar eclipse. The relatively thin path of totality will sweep across portions of 14 U.S. states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. However, the August solar eclipse will be visible to the entire North American continent. Keep in mind that weather may impact visibility in some locations.
How can you view it?
You never want to look directly at the sun with your naked eyes except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse when the moon entirely covers the sun's beaming face. But there are plenty of ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun, including special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers.
Ordinary sunglasses—even very dark ones—should not be used as a replacement for eclipse viewing glasses or handheld solar viewers. Be careful!
How will the solar eclipse impact my solar system?
According to grid experts you shouldn’t expect this event to create reliability issues despite the considerable amount of solar activity near the path of the solar eclipse. You can plan for the solar eclipse in the same way you’d plan for an extremely overcast day. Additionally, the amount of time of the eclipse will be small, so Sunnova does not expect any issues with the solar system.
Data released by U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that while there may be an impact on generation, the expectation is that the eclipse will not affect reliability of the electric systems.
States like California have spent months steadily ramping up resources to make up for the fall in solar output and subsequent return once the eclipse passes. Also, the North American Reliability Council has publicly stated that it does not expect significant issues in the bulk power system overall nationwide. stated that it does not expect significant issues in the bulk power system nationwide.
For more information about the solar eclipse, visit nasa.gov/eclipse.