What to expect from the 'path of totality' during Monday's eclipse

Aug 18, 2017
Originally published on August 18, 2017 6:39 am

Thousands of people are planning to travel to the path of totality for Monday's eclipse. That's the roughly 70-mile wide path that the moon's shadow will cast on the U.S. when it passes between the Earth and the sun. 

It's the equivalent of front-row seats for this event. And SUNY Oswego professor Scott Roby says it will be worth the drive.

"That 2.5 minutes - it’s not fireworks, but it’s very peculiar," Roby said. "It's very rare to see the sun turn black and then have this ring of light around."

The umbra, or shadow of the moon, will travel from the pacific northwest to the southeast, encasing spectators in what Roby describes as early dawn or late dusk darkness.

"It’s not quite nighttime, but will get dark enough that a few stars and maybe a couple of planets will show up in the sky," he said. "It will feel like you know a dark storm passing overhead."

From that vantage point, Roby says spectators will also be able to enjoy the Baily's beads effect.

"That’s where the edge of the moon is matching up with the edge of the sun and because there’s craters and valleys and mountains on the moons, you get little bits of sunlight peeking through the profile of the horizon," Roby said.  

Roby says it's probably too late for central New Yorkers who are planning a last-minute drive to the path of totality, because solar eclipse glasses and hotels are hard to find now. And it's about a 10-12 hour drive from central New York. But for those who are making the journey, Roby recommends that they check the weather multiple times before the eclipse and have cameras at the ready for the brief spectacle. 

Outside the path of totality, across central and northern New York, about 70% of the sun will be covered during the peak, just after 2:30 p.m. Monday.

If you don't get a chance to see the eclipse, you won't have to wait too much longer. The next full solar eclipse will occur in seven years. And this time, the path of totality will pass right over central New York. 

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