SPECIAL REPORT: Preparing for the Great American Solar Eclipse

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Some parts of the C.S.R.A .will be treated to one of the amazing wonders of the universe in just a few weeks.

On Aug. 21, 2017 the sky will go dark midday, and planets and stars will shine bright starting around 2:42 p.m.

It’s the spectacle of a lifetime and the third rock from the sun, has the best view in the Milky Way.

“There’s no place else in the solar system, where you could see a total solar eclipse the way you can from the Earth,” said Darlene Smalley, the DuPont Planetarium Program Director.

Eclipses happen about twice a year, but this one is different.

On Aug. 21, 2017 the Earth will cross the shadow of the moon creating a total Solar Eclipse.

“The other moons in the solar system are either too big or too small for that to happen,” Smalley told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “Like Mars has these 2 really tiny moons, so if they go across in front of the sun, which they do. They just look like little black dots crossing the sun. Some of the other moons in the solar system, like some of Jupiter’s large moons are from the distance that Jupiter is, they look bigger than the sun.”

The sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, but the moon is 400 times closer to Earth.

However, when the 3 perfectly align we experience a total solar eclipse.

For the first time in almost 40 years the path of the moon’s shadow passes through the continental United States.

One of the last places to watch the sun’s dark halo surround the moon? Coined the “jewel of the eclipse” is Aiken.

“Eastern Aiken County, depending on where you are will experience totality and they will experience about 2 minutes of totality there,” said Smalley.

At exactly 2:42 p.m. the daylight will turn dark.

So you’ll want to have the right equipment to protect your eyes, and only when the moon completely covers the sun can you look straight into the sky.

So as a fun way to prepare for the eclipse you can actually make your own pinhole projector.

“If you go to the NASA eclipse sight they have a downloadable page, and on the downloadable page, you can download a map of your state. I’ve got South Carolina,” Smalley said. “And you can also download one of the whole U.S. You can download it on card stock and make your own. If we cut out these 2 holes, then when the eclipse happens we can hold this out and we can make a projection of the sun through this pinhole.”

Click here to download a state. 

But if do it yourself is not really your thing, there are other ways to get involved in the eclipse experience.

“There’s actually a citizens science project to encourage people to record what they see and hear animals doing during the eclipse,” Smalley told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “It’ll be interesting to see, in different places across the country if it makes a difference, whether the eclipse occurs in the morning as it will in Oregon. Or in the afternoon, like it is here.”

You still have time to purchase viewing glasses for $2 dollars at the DuPont Planetarium.

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