On Monday, Aug. 21, the 2017 American Eclipse will offer a mid-afternoon spectacle in the sky.
A solar eclipse — the moment when the moon completely covers the sun during the daytime hours — is a sight many people have just a few opportunities to view in their lifetimes.
“For a total solar eclipse or lunar eclipse, four to five happen each year. Usually it happens over water and unless you live on an island, you may not see it,” said April Whitt, an astronomer for the Fernbank Science Center.
It has been almost a century since a solar eclipse has followed a path in North American similar to the one this year when in 1918 it moved from Oregon to North Carolina.
Georgia has had to wait 47 years to catch a glimpse of a total solar eclipse and while another eclipse is headed to North America in 2024, Georgia will only get about a 75 percent eclipse, Whitt said.
An eclipse is a pretty significant event, particularly for anyone lucky enough to be in the path of totality where the sky will go completely dark for about two and a half minutes as the moon’s 70 mile shadow hits the earth.
“If you are on the central line and if it is clear…it gets gradually darker and just as the moon moves in front of the sun, the sky is dark. You see the corona of the sun and you can see the planets and bright stars during those two minutes when the sun is blocked out,” said Whitt.
The temperature drops, clouds form, nocturnal animals begin to come out, all during just a few minutes of darkness.
In Georgia, being in the path of totality means traveling to the Northeast, but for viewers stuck in metro Atlanta, there are plenty of places to see 95 to 99 percent coverage.
A partial eclipse is not quite the same as a total eclipse — the sky will get dimmer, though not pitch black and the planets will not be visible, Whitt said — but there are still ways to observe and enjoy the celestial event.
To look directly at the eclipse, you need a pair of eclipse viewing glasses which block 99 percent of the visible light coming into your eyes in addition to UVA and UVB rays.
For indirect viewing, trees (or a colander or paper with a small hole) can serve as pinhole cameras projecting crescent shapes onto the ground as the eclipse occurs.
Here are a few places to view the partial eclipse in metro Atlanta:
Atlanta Fulton Public Library System: Several branches of AFPLS will host special watch parties complete with eclipse viewing glasses. At most of the participating branches, you will be able to see a partial solar eclipse (95%) and/ or live streaming from NASA Live Stream (technology permitting). The following branches are all hosting events on Aug. 21 — times vary, but they are generally between 1-4 p.m. (maximum viewing should occur about 2:35 p.m.) Call each branch for details.
- Northeast/Spruill Oaks Library 9560 Spruill Rd, Johns Creek 770-360-8820
- Adamsville-Collier Heights Library 3424 Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Atlanta 30331 404-699-4206
- Adams Park Library 2231 Campbellton Rd. SW, Atlanta 30311 404-752-8763
- Northside Library 3295 Northside Parkway, NW, Atlanta 30327 404-814-3508
- Ocee Branch Library 5090 Abbotts Bridge Rd., Alpharetta 770-360-8897
- Ponce de Leon Branch Library 980 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE., Atlanta 404-885-7820
Chattahoochee Nature Center: From 2-3 p.m. catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse. Viewing glasses provided while supplies last. Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Rd, Roswell
Dunwoody Nature Center: A solar eclipse party from 1-4 p.m. with peak eclipse at 2:35 p.m. and 97% will take place in the baseball fields. Special viewing glasses will be supplied while they last. Park at the Baseball Fields and bring a blanket or chairs. Dunwoody Senior Baseball Fields, 5321 Roberts Drive, Atlanta
Fernbank Science Center: See the partial solar eclipse, about 97 %, weather permitting, through solar filtered telescopes for safe viewing and enjoy programs throughout the day and live streaming of the eclipse as it crosses the country. Fernbank Science Center, 156 Heaton Park Dr., Atlanta
Georgia Institute of Technology: From 1 – 4 p.m., enjoy live streaming of the eclipse from the Georgia Tech Observatory as well as the use of safe viewing tools including eye-safe telescopes, pinhole cameras and shoebox projectors. There will be an auditory journey of the solar system and astronomy-themed music and snacks. Georgia Tech, Kessler Campanile, 355 North Ave NW, Atlanta
Georgia State University: On Georgia State’s downtown campus the public can view the eclipse through solar telescopes set up in front of 25 Park Place, Atlanta.
Ponce City Market Skyline Park: At 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 21, Skyline Park and HowStuffWorks will host an eclipse viewing party on the rooftop of Ponce City Market. The firs 300 guests will get free viewing glasses, after that, glassed can be purchased for $2 while supplies last. There will be games, trivia and the bar and concessions will be open. Regular admission rates for Skyline Park apply: $10 for adults and kids over 12, $7 for kids under 12 (kids under 3 are free). Visit skylineparkatlanta.com for details.
Woodruff Park: Visit the park from 2 – 4 p.m. The first 200 people will get a free pair solar eclipse glasses and enjoy games, music, and more during this event in conjunction with AFPLS. Woodruff Park, 91 Peachtree Street, Atlanta.