KMSP - We are now just 2 months away from the first total solar eclipse to push across the entire United States in nearly 100 years. Before you think this subject is a total yawnfest, consider a few things. First, these natural phenomena only occur on our planet once every couple of years or so on average… so they are quite rare. Next, consider that hundreds of thousands of people travel the globe to be able to view these dark escapes. Some estimates are suggesting that there could be more than 100 million people trying to view this rarity as it travels across the U.S. in a 70 mile wide path from Oregon to South Carolina… and it’s not because there are numerous big cities in the path.
The path of totality pushes across the U.S. in a sparsely populated fashion. The biggest cities it encounters are Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, & Charleston. Those cities alone only comprise of about 10 million people combined, which means that an estimated 90% of those trying to view the total eclipse will be traveling to the areas. But don’t bother booking a hotel, they are all sold out. How do I know? Because people plan their “eclipse trips” years in advance and most of the hotels along the path have been sold out for a year or more.
While Minnesota won’t get the total solar eclipse, we will still see a partial eclipse ranging from 70% to 90% percent, depending on your location in the state. The metro will experience about an 85% partial solar eclipse, but DO NOT look directly at the sun. The sun is actually powerful enough that if only 1% of it is showing, there wouldn’t be a perceptible change in the amount of light in the atmosphere which means staring at the sun with only 15% of it showing is just as bad for your eyes as staring at when all of it is showing. The ENTIRE sun has to be blocked to be able to look at it, and even then, you shouldn’t look at it for more than a few seconds at a time.
The best way to view it around here is to buy some cheapy solar eclipse glasses, they typically cost just a couple bucks a piece, but are usually sold in packs of 5 for about 10 bucks. This way you can look at the moon passing in front of the sun until your hearts content. If you don’t even wanna do that, then take a piece of paper, cut out a circle in the middle of it and hold it out in the sunlight. The shadow that the paper makes will obviously have a sunlight whole in the middle BUT the sunlight whole will only be from the part of the sun that’s showing, so you can view the eclipse on the ground.
For those that can’t travel to see the total eclipse this year, there is another that moves across the central and eastern U.S. in a few years, in 2024. Minnesota will actually get to experience a total solar eclipse in the future, but unfortunately many of us won’t be around to see it because it will cut across central Minnesota and the metro in 2099.