The Nation's Solar Eclipse

| Thursday, 17 August 2017 |
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The Nation's Solar Eclipse

The stars are definitely on Nashvillians’ side. The music capital of the U.S. is the largest U.S. city to be entirely located in the path of the total solar eclipse August 21st. This eclipse has received a significant amount of attention, and it is expected to be the most studied and viewed eclipse of all time.

What is it and why is it such a big deal?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the Sun’s disk, which can only happen when the apparent size of the moon is similar to that of the Sun when both are seen from Earth. As of now, while the Sun has a diameter that is 400 times greater than the moon’s, the latter is about 400 times closer to our planet, so when we look up at the sky, the Sun’s and the moon’s apparent sizes are very similar. Since the moon continues to move farther away from the Earth at a rate of approximately 1.5 inches every year, when the moon’s apparent size becomes smaller than the Sun’s apparent size from our point of view, total solar eclipses will be impossible to witness, so enjoy one while you still can. The last time a total solar eclipse could be seen from the continental U.S. happened 38 years ago and the last time the path of a total solar eclipse crossed our nation, coast to coast, took place in 1918. The next ones are expected to take place in 2024 and in 2045, but their paths will not include Nashville like this year’s eclipse does.

Will the eclipse affect our solar production?

This total solar eclipse is certainly expected to affect the amount of energy produced by the solar panels we have around our city and state. Even though the moon will only cover the Sun completely for less than 2 minutes, the Sun will be at least partially covered for almost 3 hours.

With a little over 13% of its electricity coming from solar, California’s utility workers have already started to discuss how they will produce enough energy from sources other than solar on August 21st to compensate for the loss in solar production. Even though the Golden State is not in the eclipse’s path, it will still be greatly affected. There currently is an expected production loss of 4,200 megawatts brought by this cosmic event, enough to power about 4.2 million average size homes.

Unfortunately, only 0.15% of Tennessee’s electricity comes from solar, so our state’s utility workers don’t have much to worry about; however, if your house has solar panels on its roof, you’ll definitely see a decrease in the panels’ power output as the eclipse takes place. One of the interesting aspects of renewable energy is realizing how cosmic events impact our daily lives, further connecting us to nature.

What should I know before I decide to witness the eclipse?

There are safety concerns associated with the viewing of this upcoming eclipse because it will involve looking directly towards the Sun, which can be very harmful to your bare eyes during some phases of the eclipse. In order to avoid any damage to them, make sure you have a proper viewing instrument, such as eclipse glasses. It should be noted that for eclipse glasses to perform their duty of protecting your eyes effectively, they have to meet a few standards that NASA has specified. So get your eclipse glasses, start hoping for a cloudless sky on the 21st, and get ready to experience darkness in the middle of your lunch break for just a couple of minutes. Check the many places nearby where viewing events will be held.


The Basics for Nashville, TN:

When: Monday, August 21st

Partial eclipse begins: 11:58 a.m. CDT

Start of totality: 1:27 p.m. CDT

Total eclipse duration: 1 minute 55 seconds

End of totality: 1:29 p.m. CDT

Partial eclipse ends: 2:54 p.m. CDT

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