What you need to know for the all-American total solar eclipse

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Don’t look right at the solar eclipse that is happening Aug. 21.

An eclipse is the alignment of the earth, moon and sun to the point where the sun “goes black.”

Eclipses happen every 18 months, but the one that’s forthcoming is special. It’s an “all-American total solar eclipse,” meaning a shadow will be cast from coast to coast. That hasn’t happened since 1918.

“For me, the solar eclipses I’ve seen have been the most profoundly moving experiences I’ve ever had,” Slooh chief astronomer Paul Cox said. “And I tell people I have no soul, so if it can affect me like that, goodness knows what it does to anyone who is kind of an emotional piece to start with.”

Cox and Michael Paolucci, the founder of Slooh, are eclipse chasers.

The Slooh mobile is their home and transportation for three weeks. Their purpose is to bring people together.

“We’re trying to find some reasons to unite and think about ourselves in this vast cosmos as being one species, opposed to some of the decisiveness that’s rampant in our culture today,” Paolucci said.

On the afternoon of Aug. 21, millions of Americans will turn their attention to the sky. From the East to the West Coast, the sun will go black for two minutes.

“An eclipse has never passed across such a populated and large area before,” Cox said.

The total eclipse will cover a 70-mile radius of America. In the Midstate, we’re going to get an 80-percent solar eclipse, where the moon covers 80 percent of the sun.

Your best view in the Midstate will be anywhere outside with a clear view of the sun.

To enjoy the show without permanent eye damage, solar safety glasses are a must.

“These cut down 99.99 percent of all the sun’s light, so they block it, reflect it back to it,” Cox said.

Astronomers warn people not to use telescopes and to get the solar eclipse protective eyewear.

You can call your local science center or library to see if they have any free ones to give you, or you can purchase a pair online for about $20.

You can also watch the eclipse on slooh.com.

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