The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, dubbed "The Great American Eclipse" by the media, was a total solar eclipse visible within a band that spanned the entire contiguous United States, passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. As a partial solar eclipse, it was visible on land from Nunavut in northern Canada to as far south as northern South America. In northwestern Europe and Africa, it was partially visible in the late evening. In Asia, it was visible only at the eastern extremity, the Chukchi Peninsula.
Prior to this event, no solar eclipse had been visible across the entire contiguous United States since June 8, 1918; not since the February 1979 eclipse had a total eclipse been visible from anywhere in the mainland United States. The path of totality touched 14 states, and the rest of the U.S. had a partial eclipse. The area of the path of totality was about 16 percent of the area of the United States, with most of this area over the ocean, not land. The event's shadow began to cover land on the Oregon coast as a partial eclipse at 4:05 p.m. UTC (9:05 a.m. PDT), with the total eclipse beginning there at 5:16 p.m. UTC (10:16 a.m. PDT); the total eclipse's land coverage ended along the South Carolina coast at about 6:44 p.m. UTC (2:44 p.m. EDT). Visibility as a partial eclipse in Honolulu, Hawaii began with sunrise at 4:20 p.m. UTC (6:20 a.m. HST) and ended by 5:25 p.m. UTC (7:25 a.m. HST).
This total solar eclipse marked the first such event in the smartphone and social media era in America. Information, personal communication, and photography were widely available as never before, capturing popular attention and enhancing the social experience.
Marriage proposals took place coinciding with the eclipse, and at least one wedding was also planned and took place to coincide with the eclipse. Logistical problems were expected with the influx of visitors, especially for smaller communities. The sale of counterfeit eclipse glasses was also anticipated to be a hazard for eye injuries.
Future total solar eclipses will cross the United States in April 2024 (12 states) and August 2045 (10 states), and annular solar eclipses—wherein the Moon appears smaller than the Sun—will occur in October 2023 (9 states) and June 2048 (9 states).
|Solar eclipse of August 21, 2017|
|Type of eclipse|
|Duration||160 sec (2 m 40 s)|
|Max. width of band||115 km (71 mi)|
|(P1) Partial begin||15:46:48|
|(U1) Total begin||16:48:32|
|(U4) Total end||20:01:35|
|(P4) Partial end||21:04:19|
|Saros||145 (22 of 77)|
|Catalog # (SE5000)||9546|
The total eclipse had a magnitude of 1.0306 and was visible within a narrow corridor 70 miles (110 km) wide, crossing fourteen of the contiguous United States: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It was first seen from land in the U.S. shortly after 10:15 a.m. PDT (17:15 UTC) at Oregon's Pacific coast, and then it progressed eastward through Salem, Oregon; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; Lincoln, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Hopkinsville, Kentucky; and Nashville, Tennessee; before reaching Columbia, South Carolina about 2:41 p.m.; and finally Charleston, South Carolina. A partial eclipse was seen for a greater time period, beginning shortly after 9:00 a.m. PDT along the Pacific Coast of Oregon. Weather forecasts predicted clear skies in Western U.S. and some Eastern states, but clouds in the Midwest and East Coast.
The longest ground duration of totality was 2 minutes 41.6 seconds at about Giant City State Park, just south of Carbondale, Illinois, and the greatest extent (width) was at near the village of Cerulean, Kentucky, located in between Hopkinsville and Princeton. This was the first total solar eclipse visible from the Southeastern United States since the solar eclipse of March 7, 1970. Two NASA WB-57F flew above the clouds, prolonging the observation time spent in the umbra. A partial solar eclipse was seen from the much broader path of the Moon's penumbra, including all of North America, particularly areas just south of the totality pass, where the eclipse lasted about 3–5 hours, northern South America, Western Europe, and some of Africa and north-east Asia.in
At one location in Wyoming, a small group of astronomers used telescopic lenses to photograph the sun as it was in partial eclipse, while the ISS was also seen to briefly transit the sun. Similar images were captured by NASA from a location in Washington. (See Gallery - partial eclipse section).
During the eclipse for a long span of its path of totality, several bright stars and four planets were visible. The star-system Regulus was visible slightly to the west of the Sun. Mars was 8 degrees to the right, and Venus 34 degrees right. Mercury was 10 degrees left, and Jupiter 51 degrees left.
This was the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States since that of July 11, 1991—which was seen only from part of Hawaii—and the first visible from the contiguous United States since 1979. An eclipse of comparable length (up to 3 minutes, 8 seconds, with the longest eclipse being 6 minutes and 54 seconds) occurred over the contiguous United States on March 7, 1970 along the southern portions of the Eastern Seaboard, from Florida to Virginia.
The path of totality of the solar eclipse of February 26, 1979 crossed only the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. Many enthusiasts traveled to the Pacific Northwest to view the eclipse, since it would be the last chance to view such an eclipse in the contiguous United States for almost four decades.
The August 2017 eclipse was the first with a path of totality crossing the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the U.S. since 1918. Also, its path of totality made landfall exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse since the country's declaration of independence in 1776. Prior to this, the path of totality of the eclipse of June 13, 1257, was the last to make landfall exclusively on lands currently part of the United States.
The path of the 2017 eclipse crosses with the path of the upcoming total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, with the intersection of the two paths being in southern Illinois in Makanda Township at Cedar Lake, just south of Carbondale. An area of about 9,000 square miles (23,000 km2), including the cities of Makanda, Carbondale, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Paducah, Kentucky, will thus experience two total solar eclipses within a span of less than seven years. The cities of Benton, Carbondale, Chester, Harrisburg, Marion, and Metropolis in Illinois; Cape Girardeau, Farmington, and Perryville in Missouri, as well as Paducah, Kentucky, will also be in the path of the 2024 eclipse, thereby earning the distinction of witnessing two total solar eclipses in seven years.
The solar eclipse of August 12, 2045 will have a very similar path of totality over the U.S. to the 2017 eclipse: about 400 km (250 mi) to the southwest, also crossing the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the country; however, totality will be more than twice as long.
A partial eclipse was visible across the width of Canada, ranging from 89 percent in Victoria, British Columbia to 11 percent in Resolute, Nunavut. In Ottawa, viewing parties were held at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. In Toronto, viewing parties were held at the CNE and the Ontario Science Centre
A partial eclipse was visible from Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean islands, and ships and aircraft in and above the adjacent oceans, as well as the northern countries of South America such as Colombia, Venezuela, and several others.
In northwestern Europe, a partial eclipse was visible in the evening or at sunset. Only those in Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Portuguese Azores archipelago saw the eclipse from beginning to end; in the rest of the UK, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, and Portugal, sunset occurred before the end of the eclipse. In Germany, the beginning of the eclipse was visible just at sunset only in the extreme northwest of the country. In all regions east of the orange line on the map, the eclipse was not visible.
In some locations in West Africa and western North Africa, a partial eclipse was seen just before and during sunset.. The most favorable conditions to see this eclipse gained the Cape Verde Archipelago with nearly 0.9 magnitude at the Pico del Fogo volcano.
A large number of media outlets broadcast coverage of the eclipse, including television and internet outlets. NASA announced plans to offer streaming coverage through its NASA TV and NASA Edge outlets, using cameras stationed on the ground along the path of totality, along with cameras on high-altitude balloons, jets, and coverage from the International Space Station; NASA stated that "never before will a celestial event be viewed by so many and explored from so many vantage points—from space, from the air, and from the ground." ABC, CBS, and NBC announced that they would respectively broadcast live television specials to cover the eclipse with correspondents stationed across the path of totality, along with CNN, Fox News Channel, Science, and The Weather Channel. The PBS series Nova presented streaming coverage on Facebook hosted by Miles O'Brien, and aired a special episode chronicling the event—"Eclipse Over America"—later in the day (which marked the fastest production turnaround time in Nova history).
Other institutions and services also announced plans to stream their perspectives of the eclipse, including the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Elephant Sanctuary of Hohenwald, Tennessee, the Slooh robotic telescope app, and The Virtual Telescope Project. The Eclipse Ballooning Project, a consortium of schools and colleges that sent 50 high-altitude balloons into the sky during the eclipse to conduct experiments, provided streams of footage and GPS tracking of its launches. Contact with one balloon with $13,000 of scientific equipment, launched under the aegis of the LGF Museum of Natural History near Vale, Oregon, was lost at 20,000 feet (6,100 m). Given that the balloon was believed to have burst at 100,000 feet (30,000 m), it could have parachuted down anywhere from eastern Oregon to Caldwell, Idaho (most likely) to Sun Valley, Idaho; a $1,000 reward is offered for its recovery.
The National Solar Observatory organized Citizen CATE volunteers to man 60 identical telescopes and instrumentation packages along the totality path to study changes in the corona over the duration of the eclipse.
In orbit, the satellites Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the International Space Station, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, and Hinode gathered data from the eclipse.
A viewing party was held at the White House, during which President Donald Trump appeared on the Truman Balcony with First Lady Melania Trump. With the sun partially eclipsed, President Trump looked briefly in the general direction of the sun before using solar viewing glasses.
The rapper Joey Badass boasted of watching the solar eclipse without viewing glasses, considering that "our ancestors ain't have no fancy eyewear [and] they ain't all go blind". Unlike the US president, he did not wear viewing glasses during the entire eclipse. Later, he complained of vision problems and had to cancel his Cleveland, Chicago & Toronto shows on the Everybody Tour, due to "unforeseen circumstances".
The eclipse generated reports of abnormal behavior in animal and plant life. Some chickens came out from beneath their coops and began grooming, usually an evening activity. Horses displayed increased whinnying, running, and jumping after the event. Cicadas were reported to grow louder before going silent during totality. Various birds were also observed flying in unusually large formations. Flowers such as the Hibiscus closed their petals which typically happens at night, before opening again after the solar event.
NASA reported over 90 million page views of the eclipse on its websites, making it the agency's biggest online event ever, beating the previous web traffic record about seven times over.
In the months leading up to the eclipse, many counterfeit glasses were put up for sale. Effective eclipse glasses must not only block most visible light, but most UV and infrared light as well. For visible light, the user should only be able to see the Sun, sunglint reflected off shiny metal, halogen bulbs, the filament in unfrosted incandescent bulbs, and similarly intense sources. Determining whether the glasses effectively block enough UV and infrared light requires the use of spectrophotometer, which is a rather expensive piece of lab equipment.
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) said products meeting the ISO 12312-2 standard avoid risk to one's eyes, and issued a list of reputable vendors of eclipse glasses. The organization warned against products claiming ISO certification or even citing the same number, but not tested by an accredited laboratory. Another problem was counterfeits of reputable vendors' products, some even claiming the company's name such as with American Paper Optics which published information detailing the differences between its glasses and counterfeits.
Andrew Lund, the owner of a company which produces eclipse glasses, noted that not all counterfeit glasses were necessarily unsafe. He stated to Quartz that the counterfeits he tested blocked the majority of harmful light spectrum, concluding that "the IP is getting ripped off, but the good news is there are no long-term harmful effects." As one example, the Springdale Library in metropolitan Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, accidentally passed out dozens of pairs of counterfeit eclipse glasses, but as of August 23 had not received any reports of eye damage.
On July 27, 2017, Amazon required all eclipse viewing products sold on its website have a submission of origin and safety information, and proof of an accredited ISO certification. In mid-August 2017, Amazon recalled and pulled listings for eclipse viewing glasses that "may not comply with industry standards", and gave refunds to customers who had purchased them.
Short-term damage includes solar keratitis, which is similar to sunburn of the cornea. Symptoms usually occur within twenty-four hours and include eye pain and light sensitivity.Long-term or permanent damage includes solar retinopathy, which occurs when the sun burns a hole in the retina, usually at the fovea (the focus of the retina). Symptoms can occur as long as several weeks after the incident, and can include loss of central vision and/or other vision, as well as eye pain and light sensitivity, afterimages, and changes in color vision. Depending on the severity of damage, vision problems can last for several months or be permanent.
Lensrentals, a camera rental company based in Tennessee, reported that many of its customers returned cameras and lenses with extensive damage. The most common problem reported was damage to the camera's sensor. This most often happens when shooting in live view mode, where the sensor is continuously exposed to the eclipse image and becomes damaged by the sun's light. Another problem was the heat and brightness of the eclipse destroying the lens iris, which mechanically regulates the amount of light that enters the camera. Another problem reported was one of a cinema camera’s neutral-density filter being damaged by the heat and light of the eclipse. The cost of all of this damage likely amounted to thousands of dollars.
Officials inside and near the path of totality planned – sometimes for years – for the sudden influx of people. Smaller towns struggled to arrange viewing sites and logistics for what could have been a tourism boom or a disaster.
In the American West, illegal camping was a major concern, including near cities like Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Idaho's Office of Emergency Management said Idaho was a prime viewing state, and advised jurisdictions to prepare for service load increases; nearly every hotel and motel room, campground, and in some cases backyards for nearly 100 miles (160 km) north and south of the path of totality had been reserved several months, if not years, in advance. The state anticipated up to 500,000 visitors to join its 1.6 million residents.
Oregon deployed six National Guard aircraft and 150 soldiers because the influx of visitors coincided with the state's fire season. Hospital staffing, and supplies of blood and anti–snake bite antidote, were augmented along the totality line.
Also in Oregon, there were reports of hoteliers canceling existing reservations made at the regular market rate and increasing their rate, sometimes threefold or more, for guests staying to view the eclipse. The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated various complaints and reached settlements with affected customers of at least 10 hotels in the state. These settlements included refunds to the customers and fines paid to the DOJ.
Although traffic to areas within the path of totality was somewhat spread out over the days prior to the eclipse, there were widespread traffic problems across the United States after the event ended. Michael Zeiler, an eclipse cartographer, had estimated that between 1.85 million and 7.4 million people would travel to the path of the eclipse.
In Oregon, because an estimated one million people were expected to arrive, the Oregon National Guard was called in to help manage traffic in Madras along US 26 and US 97. Madras Municipal Airport received more than 400 mostly personal planes that queued for hours while waiting to leave after the eclipse.
Officials in Idaho, where the totality path crossed the center of the state, began planning for the eclipse a year in advance. The state Transportation Department suspended construction projects along Interstate 15, which traverses Eastern Idaho, from August 18–22 in order to have all lanes open; their counterparts in neighboring Utah, where many were expected to travel the 220 miles (350 km) north via the highway from the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, did the same. On the morning of the eclipse, many drivers left before dawn, creating traffic volume along I-15 normally not seen until morning rush hour; northbound traffic on the interstate in Box Elder County north of Salt Lake City slowed to 10–15 miles per hour (16–24 km/h). The Idaho State Police (ISP) stationed a patrol car along I-15 every 15 miles (24 km) between Shelley and the Utah border.
After the eclipse, traffic more than doubled along I-15 southbound, with extensive traffic jams continuing for eight hours as viewers who had traveled north into the totality path from Utah returned there and to points south. The ISP tweeted a picture of bumper-to-bumper traffic stalled on the interstate just south of Idaho Falls. Motorists reported to local news outlets that it was taking them two hours to travel the 47 miles (76 km) from that city to Pocatello to the south, a journey that normally takes 45 minutes. Others reported that it took three hours to travel from Idaho Falls to the closer city of Blackfoot, 30 miles (48 km) farther north of Pocatello.
For some northbound travelers on I-15, the Montana Department of Transportation had failed to make similar plans to those in Idaho, scheduling a road construction project to begin on August 21 that narrowed a section of the highway to a single northbound lane, near the exit to Clark Canyon Dam south of Dillon. Though that stretch of highway generally has a traffic count of less than 1,000 vehicles per day, on the day of the eclipse there were over a thousand vehicles per hour at peak times. As a result, traffic backed up as far as Lima, creating a delay of at least an hour for travelers heading northward. Further, as construction had not yet begun, drivers observed cones set up but no workers present on the road. While the state traditionally halts construction projects during high traffic periods, a state official admitted "we ... probably made a bad mistake here in this regard."
In Wyoming, estimates were that the population of the state, officially 585,000, may have doubled or even tripled, with traffic counts on August 21 showing 536,000 more cars than the five-year average for the third Monday in August; a 68 percent increase. One official offered an estimate of "two people in every car" to arrive at a one-million-visitor figure, and others noted that one million was a conservative estimate based on a one-day traffic count of limited portions of major highways. There were additional arrivals by aircraft, plus travelers who arrived early or stayed for additional days. Two days before the eclipse, traffic increased 18 percent over a five-year average, with an additional 131,000 vehicles on the road. Sunday saw an additional 217,000-vehicle increase.
Following the eclipse, more than 500,000 vehicles traveled Wyoming roads, creating large traffic jams, particularly on southbound and eastbound highways. Drivers reported that it took up to 10 hours to travel 160 miles (260 km) into northern Colorado. There was one traffic fatality, and another fatality related to an off-highway ATV accident, but in general there were far fewer incidents and traffic citations than authorities had anticipated.
In Tennessee, the Knoxville News Sentinel described the traffic problems created by the eclipse as the worst ever seen in that part of the state. One backup along Interstate 75 reached 34 miles (55 km) in length, between Niota and the Interstate 40 interchange at Farragut. A spokesman for the state's Department of Transportation allowed that the traffic jams were the worst he had seen in six and a half years on the job, noting that accidents had aggravated the already heavy traffic flows, attributed the I-75 congestion to Knoxville-area residents heading for the totality path at Sweetwater and returning during what was the city's normal afternoon rush hour.
Before the eclipse, state officials had described their traffic expectations as equivalent to that generated by the Bonnaroo Music Festival, the twice-a-season NASCAR Monster Energy Cup races at Bristol or the formerly-held Boomsday fireworks festival. "Maybe they should have considered a tsunami of traffic combining all three of those heavily attended events", the News Sentinel commented. The Tennessee Highway Patrol made sure that "[e]very trooper not on sick leave or military leave or pre-approved leave [wa]s working" the day of the eclipse; the state DOT made sure its full complement of emergency-aid HELP trucks were available as well. Alert signs on the highways also warned motorists not to pull over onto the shoulders to watch the eclipse as it could increase the risk of dangerous accidents and block the path of emergency vehicles.
In North Carolina, the Department of Transportation added cameras, message boards and safety patrols in the counties where the total eclipse would take place, as well as stopping road work. The department warned that due to "unprecedented" traffic ordinary activities requiring driving might prove difficult, and advised people to act as if there were snow.
In Kentucky, particularly around the Hopkinsville area, which was dubbed "Eclipseville, USA", post-eclipse traffic caused extensive delays. The en masse departure of tourists via Interstate 69 as well as the Western Kentucky Parkway resulted in commute times double or even triple of normal. The Hopkinsville-to-Lexington commute under normal circumstances lasts three and a half hours.
An eclipse causes a reduction of solar power generation where the Moon shadow covers any solar panel, as do clouds.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation predicted minor impacts, and attempted to measure the impact of the 2017 eclipse. In California, solar power was projected to decrease by 4–6,000 megawatts at 70 MW/minute, and then ramp up by 90 MW/minute as the shadow passes. CAISO's typical ramp rate is 29 megawatts per minute. Around 4 GW mainly in North Carolina and Georgia were expected to be 90 percent obscured.
After the 2017 eclipse, grid operators in California reported having lost 3,000–3,500 megawatts of utility-scale solar power, which was made up for by hydropower and gas reliably and as expected, mimicking the usual duck curve. Energy demand management was also used to mitigate the solar drop.
NV Energy prepared for the solar eclipse months in advance and collaborated with 17 western states. When the eclipse began covering California with partial darkness, which reduced its usual amount of solar-generated electricity, NV Energy sent power there. Likewise, when Nevada received less sunlight, other west coast states supplied electricity to it. During the solar eclipse, the state of Nevada lost about 450 megawatts of electricity, the amount used by about a quarter million typical residences.
On June 20, 2017, the USPS released the first application of thermochromic ink to postage stamps in its Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp to commemorate the eclipse. When pressed with a finger, body heat turns the dark image into an image of the full moon. The stamp was released prior to August 21, so uses an image from the eclipse of March 29, 2006 seen in Jalu, Libya.
(Images where the sun is completely eclipsed by the moon)
(Images where the sun is partially eclipsed by the moon)
(Images of the eclipse created by natural pinholes formed by tree leaves)
Astronomers Without Borders began collecting eclipse glasses for redistribution to Latin America for the total solar eclipse occurring on July 2, 2019 and to Asia for the annular eclipse on December 26, 2019.
|Solar eclipse series sets from 2015–18|
|Descending node||Ascending node|
|March 20, 2015
|125||September 13, 2015|
|March 9, 2016
|September 1, 2016|
Partial from Buenos Aires
|February 26, 2017
|August 21, 2017|
From Olivos, Buenos Aires
|February 15, 2018
|155||August 11, 2018|
|Partial solar eclipses on July 13, 2018, and January 6, 2019, occur during the next semester series.|
This solar eclipse is a part of Saros cycle 145, repeating every 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours, containing 77 events. The series started with a partial solar eclipse on January 4, 1639, and reached a first annular eclipse on June 6, 1891. It was a hybrid event on June 17, 1909, and total eclipses from June 29, 1927, through September 9, 2648. The series ends at member 77 as a partial eclipse on April 17, 3009. The longest eclipse will occur on June 25, 2522, with a maximum duration of totality of 7 minutes, 12 seconds. 
|Series members 16–26 occur between 1901 and 2100|
June 17, 1909
June 29, 1927
July 9, 1945
July 20, 1963
July 31, 1981
August 11, 1999
August 21, 2017
September 2, 2035
September 12, 2053
September 23, 2071
October 4, 2089
The metonic series repeats eclipses every 19 years (6939.69 days), lasting about 5 cycles. Eclipses occur in nearly the same calendar date. In addition, the octon subseries repeats 1/5 of that or every 3.8 years (1387.94 days).
|21 eclipse events, progressing from north to south between June 10, 1964, and August 21, 2036|
|June 10–11||March 27–29||January 15–16||November 3||August 21–22|
June 10, 1964
March 28, 1968
January 16, 1972
November 3, 1975
August 22, 1979
June 11, 1983
March 29, 1987
January 15, 1991
November 3, 1994
August 22, 1998
June 10, 2002
March 29, 2006
January 15, 2010
November 3, 2013
August 21, 2017
June 10, 2021
March 29, 2025
January 14, 2029
November 3, 2032
August 21, 2036
Notable total solar eclipses crossing the United States from 1900 to 2050:
Notable annular solar eclipses crossing the United States from 1900 to 2050:
a unique opportunity for professional astronomers to intermingle with knowledgeable amateurs; gathering together to learn from each other and exchange ideas.
Once we left Hopkinsville ... It took us 10 hours to go 210 miles, and we didn't return to our home in Lexington until just after midnight.
As of 10 p.m., drivers were still on the roads trying to get back to Louisville more than seven hours after leaving Hopkinsville.
The analysis performed in this study showed no reliability impacts to bulk power system (BPS) operations.
causes substantial effects to wide-scale solar generation within a very short amount of time. The output generated by PV/solar systems will be either diminished or drastically reduced within the window of this event. Sudden widespread diminishing of solar irradiance may heavily affect areas with large amounts of utility scale PV energy installations or behind-the-meter DERs.
Today’s eclipse is a test run for the electricity community. So we have exactly the same challenge on a regular basis within the grid because of solar.