SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - On the 21st of August this year, the sun will go dark in the middle of the afternoon. This solar eclipse will be visible, weather cooperating, all across the United States of America.
Highlights: For the first time in over 30 years, a partial solar eclipse will occur in South Mississippi on Monday, August 21 in the afternoon. Areas to our north will get a total solar eclipse.
What is a solar eclipse?
The moon orbits the earth. The earth orbits the sun. We know this stuff, right?
But, those orbits will align in such a way on August 21 that the moon will block part of the earth from seeing the sun. The moon will cast its shadow onto the earth's surface.
Areas that get the full shadow of the moon will be able to witness a total solar eclipse. That's when the entire sun is blocked from view. Areas that only get a part of the moon's shadow will be able to witness a partial solar eclipse-- it's when only part of the sun is blocked by the moon.
Where and when will this happen?
Everyone in the United States gets a chance to view the eclipse during the middle of the day on August 21. Areas preparing to view the total eclipse will stretch in a line from near Oregon to near Kentucky to near the Carolinas. The Gulf Coast region will catch a partial eclipse.
In South Mississippi, the partial eclipse will begin at 11:59 A.M. CDT on August 21, according to NASA. That is when the moon will begin to block part of the sun in South Mississippi. At 1:31 P.M. CDT, South Mississippi's partial eclipse will reach its maximum: the moon will block about 82% of the sun for a few moments.
"This eclipse could be particularly impressive considering it's going to happen right in the middle of the afternoon, dramatically darkening the skies," said WLOX First Alert Meteorologist Wesley Williams. "We just need the weather to cooperate. A cloudy sky could ruin the show."
How to safely view the eclipse?
Viewers trying to catch the show should keep certain safety tips in mind to avoid damaging their eyes and threatening their vision health. Remember, it's almost never safe to look directly at the sun, eclipse or not.
"Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse ("totality"), when the moon entirely blocks the sun's bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality," according to NASA.
Keep in mind that sunglasses do not provide enough protection to look at the sun during an eclipse. Only look at the sun by using an approved sun filter.
It's even safer to view the eclipse indirectly by projecting the sun's image with a pinhole or binoculars.
The last solar eclipse viewable in the United States was in 1979, officials say. The next one will not occur until 2023.
Correction: the South MS Partial Eclipse beginning and peak times in this article have been adjusted to reflect the proper eclipse timing.