PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Get ready for a spectacle in the sky later this month: August 21st brings a total eclipse of the sun, the first in 99 years to cross the U.S. from coast to coast. Some people are traveling hundreds, if not a couple thousand miles for the best, unobstructed view — but you can stay right where you are and still get quite the show.
Over Philadelphia, a little over three-quarters of the sun will be obscured by the moon.
“That’s going to be about 80 percent of the sun being covered,” said Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association co-president Dwight Dulsky. “It’s going to look like it’s a big bite taken out of the sun.”
Dulsky says it begins here around 1:20 in the afternoon of Monday the 21st, and peaks at 2:44 p.m.
“The one thing everybody says as soon as they’re done witnessing this is, ‘okay, where are we going to go for the next one?'”
You’ll notice changes even if it’s cloudy here, but Dulsky says the sweet spot is across the line of totality from Portland, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. From here, an 11-hour drive to the beaches near Charleston will get you there. But go early: hotels in prime eclipse viewing spots out west were all booked up a year ago.
“The light is just so different from normal daylight. Other things around you happen as well, like the temperature can drop 10-15 degrees,” Dulsky said. “Birds and wildlife can become active because they think it’s becoming nightfall.”
Just make sure to cast your gaze safely, using approved eclipse glasses or with an arts-and-crafts project you can find online. NASA’s eclipse website has instructions.
Livestreams are planned for the 2.5 minute-long experience, as are NASA ‘citizen science projects’ collecting cloud and air temperature data.