August 21, 2017

In the summer of 2017, two weeks before Labor Day, life in America will pause. Store clerks will abandon their posts and city dwellers will climb to rooftops as the nation awaits the coming of the moon's shadow.

The total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, will be truly exceptional, the first in 99 years to cross the entire breadth of the continental United States. Like the eclipse of 1878—the subject of David Baron's book—it will thrill and inspire the nation.

"A total eclipse pulls back the curtain that is the daytime sky, exposing what is above our heads but unseen at any other time: the solar system. Suddenly, you perceive our blazing sun as never before, flanked by bright stars and planets." —David Baron, from the prologue to American Eclipse.

To view the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, you must stand within the narrow path of the moon's shadow, which will cross the country from Oregon to South Carolina.

Anyone outside of this zone, which scientists call the path of totality, will experience a partial solar eclipse—an interesting but fundamentally different event. Only inside the path, and only during those few minutes when the moon entirely covers the solar surface, is it safe to look at the sun directly. For that brief period, you will see the sun's majestic outer atmosphere, its corona.

“[Baron's] book carries across the spirit of eclipse watching that millions of Americans can gain by observing the 2017 total eclipse.”Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, Chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Eclipses, and a veteran of 64 solar eclipses.

For tips on where to view the eclipse, advice on how to do so safely, and detailed maps of the path of totality, please visit the following websites:



More resources

American Astronomical Society
     General eclipse information
     Eye safety advice

Mr. Eclipse—tips for eclipse photography

Interactive map of eclipse path, by Xavier Jubier

Where to purchase eclipse glasses:
     American Paper Optics
     Rainbow Symphony
     Thousand Oaks Optical