Baldwin residents will see partial eclipse

By Allison Marlow
Posted 8/18/17

On Monday, the moon will slowly pass between the Earth and the sun, treating all of North America to a solar eclipse.

For those who are along a slim, 150-mile thick band stretching from Salem, …

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Baldwin residents will see partial eclipse

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On Monday, the moon will slowly pass between the Earth and the sun, treating all of North America to a solar eclipse.

For those who are along a slim, 150-mile thick band stretching from Salem, Ore. to Charleston, S.C., the sky will darken and night will fall for roughly two minutes as the sun is completely blocked by the moon.

In Baldwin County, the sky probably won’t darken. And the sun will not be completely covered. Scientists say viewers here will see approximately 80 percent of the disc of the sun covered.

“Many partial eclipses take place that are not very deep and this one is going to be, for us, marginally deep,” said Dr. Justin Sanders, associate professor and department chair of the physics department at the University of South Alabama.

“You might notice dimming but because it will be gradual, the darkening effect may be difficult to see,” he said.

Sanders said he has previously seen an eclipse that covered 93 percent of the sun’s surface and the sky became noticeably darker, the air became cooler and birds began to chirp.

“It looked very much like dawn,” he said. “We shouldn’t get a show that good though.”

The last time a total eclipse passed above any part of the United States was in February of 1979 when a total eclipse could be seen across the northwest part of the nation from Washington to North Dakota.

In 1776, the same year the U.S. declared its independence, a total solar eclipse was visible over the U.S. and in no other country, just as the eclipse will be this year.

Sanders said if you plan to head out on Monday to view the eclipse, be aware that it is a slow process and the moon will be moving into and out of the path of the sun for much of the day. The main show, when the moon is directly in front of the sun, should happen about 1:30 p.m.

To make sure you don’t miss that moment, plan to be outside about 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after that time.

“It comes on very gradually and leaves very gradually. The whole period of time from beginning to end is about three hours as more and more of the sun is gradually covered up and then as the moon moves away to let the sun be seen again,” Sanders said.

Even though Baldwin residents will not see the total eclipse, Sanders said it is worth the effort to head outside and take a look. And if you can head toward the path of where the total eclipse will be visible, all the better.

“The number of total eclipses that come along in a person’s life are fairly small,” he said. “If one does happen relatively near you a lot of the time it’s worth it to travel to see it. You may only get a handful of opportunities in your lifetime.”

Total eclipses will occur over parts of North America again in April of 2024 and August of 2026, though neither of those pass across the entire U.S. like the eclipse will on Monday.