5 things you need to know about the rare solar eclipse

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5 things you need to know about the rare solar eclipse

The first total solar eclipse in nearly 100 years will cross the continental United States Aug. 21 from coast to coast — a rare spectacle caused by the sun, moon and planet Earth perfectly aligning.

While this region will only see a partial solar eclipse, local residents are traveling to some of the best areas in the U.S. to view the total solar eclipse, and the rare astrological event could cause issues here including traffic problems and eye damage in people who look at the eclipse directly.

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini talks about the timing of the eclipse and how you can find it In your town.

1. WHEN IS IT HAPPENING? 

The eclipse will begin shortly after 1 p.m. Aug. 21, and it will take almost three hours to cross the face of the sun from one side to the other. The path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the corona or halo can be seen, will stretch from Oregon to South Carolina — and the last coast-to-coast total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. was in 1918.

The eclipse will begin in Oregon at 10:15 a.m. local time (1:15 p.m. in Dayton). The eclipse’s path of totality will cut a 60-mile-wide arc across the country and end in South Carolina about an hour and a half later.

2. WHAT AM I GOING TO SEE IN DAYTON? 

Locally, Ohioans will only witness a partial eclipse — and it could lead to even more eye damage. WHIO meteorologist Brett Collar said people should wear certified ISO solar eclipse glasses or avoid looking directly at the sun.

“If you are in this region, viewing the eclipse from your backyard, the biggest safety concern is going to be for your eyes,” Collar said. “You cannot look directly at it at any point here. We’ll only see a partial eclipse. During the max eclipse, 11 percent of the sun will still be showing. There’s going to be some eye damage. If you look at it a long time, you are going to end up with eye damage.”

3. HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF AGAINST EYE DAMAGE?

Looking directly at the sun during the event can cause retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. The exposure to the light can result in damage or destruction to cells in the retina, that transmit what you see to the brain. Damage can be temporary or permanent, according to NASA.

Viewers should only watch the eclipse with special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or a hand-held solar viewer. Collar said viewers can look at the solar eclipse for about two and half minutes during the max cycle. Since this area will not see the full eclipse, it will not be safe to look directly at it with a naked eye at any point.

4. WHERE ARE PEOPLE TRAVELING TO SEE THE FULL SOLAR ECLIPSE?

Hopkinsville, which is located in the southwest corner of Kentucky, about an hour west of Bowling Green, is the closest city to this region where good views of the eclipse will be seen. Hopkinsville is home to about 32,000 people on a normal day, but more than 100,000 visitors are expected to descend on the Kentucky town and the surrounding region.

Other cities with the best view of the full solar eclipse include: Madras, Oregon; Snake River Valley, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; Sandhill’s of Western Nebraska; St. Joseph, Missouri; Carbondale, Illinois; Nashville, Tennessee; Gatlinberg in the Great Smoky Mountains; and Columbia, South Carolina.

5. HOW ARE LOCAL RESIDENTS WATCHING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE?

Some local residents will travel to states like Tennessee and Kentucky, which will see the “awe-inspiring” total solar eclipse. More than 50 Oakwood High School juniors and seniors will travel to witness the event. Mark Brooks Hedstrom, astronomy teacher at Oakwood, said he and about 55 current and former astronomy students will travel 337 miles to Spring City, Tenn., in the Tennessee Valley.

Tom Warner, a West Milton resident, is taking his wife and grandsons to Nashville to get the best view of the solar eclipse. Though he said he wasn’t sure of the best place there to watch the eclipse, he’s excited to share the rare astrological phenomenon with his family.

“The boys are all really smart. They love anything science, geology, astronomy, everything,” he said. “I think they’re really going to like it.”

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