A month to go until the Great Solar Eclipse

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We are now just a month away from a unique experience that has never happened in the United States… at least not when the U.S. has been the U.S.  A total solar eclipse will travel across the Contiguous United States and impact no other land mass.  This is the first time this has happened since the United States was formed back in 1776.  This is the first total solar eclipse that’s gone from coast to coast in the U. S. in nearly 100 years.  Now, a total solar eclipse isn’t all that rare on our planet, occurring somewhere on the surface of Earth about every 18 months.  But is very rare in any one specific location with the recurrence of a total solar eclipse averaging about every 150 years.  That being said, there are some areas that have been “hit” 5 or 6 times in the last century or two, and other areas that haven’t been “hit” once.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon passes in front of the sun, completely blocking out the sun’s rays on one small path of the Earth as the moon’s shadow passes across our planet.  Far more folks will see a partial solar eclipse where the moon passes in front of the sun, but does not completely block all of the sun’s rays.  That is what Minnesota will experience.  The Twin Cities will see about 85% of the sun blocked by the moon, with more in the southwestern corner of the state, and less in the northeast.  Even with 85% of the sun covered, you CANNOT look directly at the eclipse.  The sun’s rays are so powerful, that there is no noticeable change in light unless at least 98% of the sun is covered.

In order to see the solar eclipse from here in Minnesota, some special designed glasses will be needed.  You can find those glasses in many places on the internet, and they are no more than a few bucks a piece… although will likely get far more expensive as supplies dwindle ahead of the event.

So what will the weather be like on the big day?? Well, unfortunately it’s way too early to know anything for sure.  But we can take away a few things by using what has happened in the past, called climatology.  Climatologically speaking, most locations in the state have a 45% to 65% chance of clear skies, which is what you want.  It will be nearing the last week of August, so quite likely it will still be quite warm, and could be downright hot.  Many folks hoping to see the total eclipse are traveling to Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming because those areas have a much higher likelihood of clear skies… generally 70% to 90%.