On August 21st, 2017, the Moon will pass directly between the Sun and Earth, creating a solar eclipse that will be visible from all of North America and much of South America. The path of totality, where the Moon appears to block the Sun entirely, will pass coast-to-coast across the the United States, shadowing millions of Americans and world travelers alike. Over 12 million people live within this path and tens of millions more are expected to converge on it to witness a couple brief minutes of totality. With Sky Guide, you now have some great tools to plan and watch this exciting event.
Plan your travels
Sky Guide contains a handy eclipse planning tool that will help you decide where to view the eclipse. Open the app and navigate to Search > 2017 Solar Eclipse. At the top of this page is a map. The shaded area represents locations where a total eclipse will be seen, but being as close as possible to the darker line in the center will ensure you experience the maximum duration of totality. If you do plan on traveling, we highly recommend going all the way!
Move the map to see how eclipse information changes with different locations. Please note that the calculated times for the eclipse are for the time zone your have your device set to. Be sure to take that into consideration if your travels will take you into a different time zone. Also please note that the map above is for travel planning purposes only. It will not update your sky within Sky Guide. For more on how to watch the eclipse within the app, continue reading...
As for selecting your final destination, that is entirely up to you! There are many local communities planning events, so do a little research online before you hit the road.
Safe viewing tips
First, and most importantly, NEVER look directly at the Sun without proper protection. You could damage your eyesight permanently! With that said, there are a handful of ways to safely observe the eclipse:
- Eclipse glasses are low cost and effective at blocking the Sun's harmful rays. You might also check with your local library to see if they will provide any.
- Telescopes can be fitted with a solar filter placed over the front lens.
- Binoculars can also be fitted with solar filters over each lens.
- Whatever method you choose, do not combine eclipse glasses with any telescope or binoculars because the magnified light could damage the filters and harm your eyes.
What to expect on the day of the eclipse
Traffic jams! Millions of people will be converging on a narrow strip of land, so you should seriously consider arriving at your destination a day early, save yourself the stress, and fully enjoy the experience. If that is not possible, consider alternate routes to less popular locations.
When the eclipse finally begins, the Moon will slowly creep in front of the Sun, turning a disc into an ever thinner crescent. As the sky grows darker and totality nears, you might be tempted to remove your eclipse glasses. Don't! Only during totality is it safe to remove your glasses. When you finally do, you'll see an aura of plasma, known as the corona, surrounding the Sun. Look carefully and you'll see the bright star Regulus and the planets Mars and Mercury leading and following the Sun.
Cloudy weather on the day of the eclipse?
Don't worry! You can still watch the eclipse as it happens within Sky Guide, which contains a very precise simulation of the eclipse, right down to the second.
Here are some tips for experiencing it in the app:
- First, make sure your location is set correctly. If you have travelled to the path of totality, just ensure that you have Current Location selected under Main Menu > Location (also ensure you have given Sky Guide access to Location Services in iOS Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Sky Guide). If you are not in the path of totality but want to view what it would look like from a particular location, set your location to Manual Location instead (just don't forget to change it back later).
- Next, return to the Main Menu and select Time & Date and check the mark for Select Time. The time of the eclipse varies by location, so just set it to something in the morning of August 21 (If you are watching in real time, you can skip this step and just keep Current Time selected).
- Close the Time & Date page and then tap the Search button in the top right corner. Navigate to Solar System and then tap on Sun.
- Pinch to zoom in for a closer look.
- Now use the time controls provided to zero in on the time of the eclipse. Each tap forward will increase the speed of time. The refresh icon on the right will reset the time back to Current Time which can be used to watch the eclipse in real time.
One final tip, and this might be the most important of them all. Total eclipses are rare and unless you are a dedicated eclipse chaser, this might very well be the only one you ever see. So, especially if this is your first eclipse, try not to fuss too much with technology like phones and cameras. Just relax and enjoy the experience. It will be over quicker than you realize!