What to look for and when, how to protect your eyes, where to watch with others and lots of need-to-know facts about the spectacle coming Monday morning.
The moon’s shadow Monday morning will sweep across Oregon at more than twice the speed of sound, and leave millions reeling in awe, if the hype is to be believed.
It’s been 38 years since the Northwest last experienced a total solar eclipse, and people have been planning for months — scoping out campgrounds, setting up science projects and buying special viewing glasses. Overachievers!
However, some of us don’t have closets spilling out with tie-dye (kidding!), can’t tell the Scorpio constellation from Sagittarius and consider it an accomplishment to get to work on time Monday with a mug of coffee, much less special eclipse glasses.
- Northwest, like the rest of the nation, thrilled by coast-to-coast celestial show
- Watch: Dramatic view of solar eclipse from Alaska Airlines flight on Boeing 737
- Seattle companies to workers for eclipse: Stop working and go outside
- Watch live video, find more live updates from our reporters, photographers
- Being awe-struck — by a solar eclipse or another event — has surprising benefits
- 5 stories about why we’re attracted to a total solar eclipse: Finding love, getting stoned
- NASA research plane flying from Seattle for eclipse mission
- ‘Great American eclipse’ will be the most-studied ever, thanks to citizen scientists
- How Seattle and the Northwest celebrated the last total solar eclipse
Here’s what you ought to know about the cosmic display and how to prevent the corona from singeing your retinas:
In Seattle, the moon will begin to obscure the sun at 9:08 a.m. and reach maximum coverage at 10:21 a.m. At 11:39 a.m., the show will be over.
What is an eclipse, anyway? Short answer: The sun is about 400 times larger than the moon. It’s also about 400 times farther away. Put the moon between the sun and the Earth, and it’s capable of blocking out the sun.
The path of totality — a roughly 70-mile-wide area where the sun will be completely blocked — will travel across the center of Oregon. That’s where viewers can marvel at features like the solar corona. In downtown Seattle, about 92 percent of the sun will be obscured.
It will still be a novel experience, but areas outside the totality will miss the eclipse’s dramatic effects.
Protect your eyes
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Do not stare at the sun without protection. Unless you’re recently removed from a media bunker, you’ve no doubt heard this. Damage to the retina can cause blurred vision, headaches — even blindness.
Look for ISO 12312-2 certification on anything being sold as eclipse glasses. The American Astronomical Society published a list of reputable vendors, along with a list of retail chains selling certified glasses. The AAS also offers tips on how to tell if your eclipse glasses meet the standard.
Many stores are sold out. So if you can’t get your hands on a pair of eclipse glasses, consider building a pinhole viewer out of a cereal box.
The clouds have aligned … elsewhere. Thank heavens. Weather forecasters expect clear skies in most of Western Washington, away from the coast. In Oregon, the same is expected away from the coast.
Officials were expecting traffic jams throughout the Northwest, as eclipse chasers make their way to Oregon. An Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman said the state was expecting more drivers on the roadways than ever before.
Don’t plan a quick jaunt to the Beaver State. There will be no such thing.
Officials are encouraging travelers to carry emergency supplies, and are concerned that drivers pulling off the side of the road might start fires.
Avoiding the allegedly apocalyptic traffic in Oregon? There are still options to watch the totality.
NASA plans to livestream the eclipse. Television networks, including The Weather Channel, the Science Channel, ABC, CBS and NBC, plan live coverage. CNN is offering virtual-reality coverage and PBS will broadcast a NOVA special Monday evening.
Fourteen Seattle Public Library branches will show the NASA livestream. Several library branches, parks, community centers — including the South Park Community Center, Bryant Neighborhood Playground, Highpoint library branch and the Northgate library branch — are hosting outdoor viewing events. Some King County libraries are hosting similar gatherings.
The Museum of Flight will host a free viewing party on its lawn from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and give away 1,000 free eclipse glasses
The Pacific Science Center will open at 8:30 a.m. and host a viewing event with 800 free eclipse glasses.
In 1979, the Northwest saw its most recent total solar eclipse. Tiny Goldendale, Klickitat County, which hosts a Stonehenge replica, became the center of attention. In a carnivallike atmosphere, Druids chanted incantations and people hawked eclipse souvenirs. Much of the rest of the state was clouded over, unfortunately.
The last time the United States saw a coast-to-coast total eclipse was 99 years ago in 1918.
You’d freak out, too, if the sky went dark without explanation. Animals might act strangely during the eclipse, scientists say.
Reports abound: Whales swimming to the surface, llamas crowding for a view and spiders dismantling their webs are just a few odd happenings reported by eclipse chasers.
Scientists will be studying fauna for funky behavior during the eclipse.
The masses descending on Oregon could stress cell service, guzzle the region low on gas and threaten emergency services.
Fire officials are concerned about blazes near the path of totality and have limited access to wilderness areas.
Prices have soared so high for lodging that the city of Salem plans to allow tent camping in public parks. The demand for temporary toilets in many areas exceeds supply.
For Seattleites at home, those worries will be distant. Seeing a total eclipse in person, though, is known to inspire a sense of awe.
Might our greatest fear be missing out?