Solar eclipse: Anticipation increases with millions hoping for clear skies

  • Written by Mike Wendling in Chicago and Emma Vardy in Texas
  • BBC News

Video explanation,

What will the weather be like during a solar eclipse?

Eclipse watchers are watching the weather closely ahead of a solar eclipse that will plunge a wide swath of North America into daylight darkness on Monday.

Forecasters expect cloudy conditions in northern Mexico, Texas and parts of the Great Lakes region.

The weather is expected to be better in western Mexico and parts of the US Midwest.

Best viewing is likely under clear spring skies in New England and Canada.

Starting in the Pacific Ocean, the eclipse will become visible on the coast of Mexico near the city of Mazatlan at around 11:07 local time (19:07 GMT).

The moon's shadow will pass across Earth at 1,500 mph (2,400 km/h) — tracing a northeasterly arc across Durango and Coahuila before throwing parts of Texas, Arkansas and neighboring states into darkness.

As the path crosses over the American Midwest, a phenomenon known as a total eclipse – when the moon completely blocks the sun – will cross over the cities of Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo.

At around 15:18 E (19:18 GMT), the eclipse will reach Niagara Falls, where a record crowd of up to a million people are expected to gather to watch the fog from the famous cataracts turn pink – provided the weather is fair. . -He works.

The shadow will continue to travel northeast through the New England states and into the Maritime Provinces of Canada before tracking into the Atlantic Ocean and ending at 20:55 GMT.

Video explanation,

What will the weather be for a solar eclipse?

This eclipse is the first of its kind this century to pass over the three North American countries.

Here are details on when the total eclipse will occur in US and Canadian cities, all in local time:

  • San Antonio, Texas: 13:33 Central Time (19:33 GMT)
  • Dallas, Texas: 1:40 p.m. Central Time
  • Carbondale, Illinois: 13:59 central time
  • Cleveland, Ohio: 15:13 east
  • Buffalo, New York: 15:18 Eastern
  • Burlington, Vermont: 15:26 ET
  • Montreal, Quebec: 15:27 east
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick: 16:33 Atlantic Ocean
  • Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador: 17:12 Newfoundland time

Special events, festivals and even mass weddings will be held in towns and cities across the route.

NASA and its partner organizations are hosting more than 100 events, including rallies where the eclipse can be seen for the first time from Earth in Mazatlan, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana.

Crowds will fill a football stadium in Carbondale, Illinois, where the path of Monday's eclipse will intersect with the path of the last solar eclipse to travel across the United States, in 2017.

The main variable for many viewers will be the weather here on Earth.

In its latest forecast for the eclipse on Sunday, the US National Weather Service warned of potentially severe conditions, including heavy rain, tornadoes and hail, that could affect travel in Texas and neighboring states. The view in San Antonio is expected to be almost completely obscured by clouds.

However, overcast conditions won't necessarily spoil the experience. Regardless of the weather, the sky will remain largely dim as the moon's shadow moves across the Earth.

The Sun will be partially obscured even thousands of miles away for its totality, but the most dramatic events will be witnessed by those in the direct path. Some locations will see the total eclipse for about four and a half minutes.

The Moon will completely cover the Sun, with only the corona – the star's bright outer atmosphere – visible. The temperature will drop and wind patterns and cloud formations may change. Some animals will be tricked into thinking that day has turned into night, and stars and planets may appear in the sky.

Ahead of the eclipse, authorities reported an increase in traffic and demand for accommodation from astronomy enthusiasts, some of whom planned their trips months or years in advance.

According to NASA, 31.6 million people live along the path of the total eclipse, and millions more are expected to travel to catch a glimpse of the celestial event.

NASA estimates that 215 million American adults – 88% of the population – witnessed the last North American solar eclipse in 2017 live or electronically.

At Starry Night RV Park in Fort Worth, Texas vehicles full of eclipse watchers were streaming in to set up camp ready for the big moment.

Owner Lindsay Coon told the BBC: “It's become such a big thing, people have been coming here from everywhere.”

“I was trying to explain to my daughter that it was going to be dark, and she asked me: 'Are we going to have to sleep in?'

“We'll be together, put our glasses on and take a selfie, it's once in a lifetime for us.”

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Sky watchers test eclipse glasses in Texas

Except for the period of total eclipse, special glasses are needed to view the partial phases of the eclipse. Experts advise that regular sunglasses are useless, and looking at the sun, even through a camera or smartphone, can cause eye damage in seconds.

Video explanation,

Here's how to watch a solar eclipse safely

Some schools were closed or allowed students to be absent Monday, while others planned special viewing events.

If weather affects Monday's event, North American eclipse watchers will have some time to wait. The next total solar eclipse that will be widely visible in the United States and Canada will occur in 2044.

What are the stages of the eclipse?

Written by Science Editor Jonathan Amos

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Possible phases – partial eclipse (top left), diamond ring (top right), Bailey's beads (bottom left), totality (bottom right) and corona view (middle)

Partial eclipse: The Moon gradually covers the disk of the Sun. Everything gets darker and darker.

Diamond ring: The last vestiges of the powerful sunlight dwindle into a bright point of light, as if it were a large diamond.

Billy Beads: As the diamonds dissipate, any remaining light shines through the deep valleys on the moon's edge.

the total: Day turns to night, but also pay attention to temperature changes, wind, clouds and birdsong.

corona: Your chance to see the Sun's hidden secret – the delicate tendrils of light in our star's outer atmosphere, its corona.

And then everything happens in reverse. The kidney is broken with beads. The diamond reappears and expands the light back to its normal blinding intensity, and the corona is hidden once again.

More about solar eclipses

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