Solar Eclipse 101: Everything you need to know before the big day

August 7, 2017

By Dr. Steven Queen, Harris Regional Hospital

For months, news streams across the country have been filled with commentary about The Great American Solar Eclipse that will cross over 14 states in August. And for good reason. The natural phenomenon is rare in and of itself, requiring perfect alignment of the earth, moon, and sun, and, according to scientists, often occurs over water sources or other locations uninhabited by humans. This occurrence is particularly rare since it is the first to cover the continental U.S. in 99 years and the first to stay completely in the U.S. since 1776. Its path of totality will stretch 70 miles wide and ripple through the skies from, you guessed it, Oregon to South Carolina.

For us, in Sylva, Franklin and Bryson City that means we are right in the path of this total solar eclipse. Monday, August 21, Sylva will experience totality at 2:35 and lasting for one minute, 44 seconds. Franklin will experience totality at 2:35 PM and lasting for two minutes, 30 seconds. Bryson City will experience totality at 2:35 and lasting for one minute, 57 seconds.

Before The Great American Solar Eclipse leaves its mark on history, there are several things we all need to know.

Protect your eyes. According to experts at NASA, special solar filters are required to protect your eyes from the harmful rays. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses are not strong enough to look directly at the sun. Doing so can cause permanent damage or blindness to your eyes. And for those of you hoping to steal some images of the spectacular sight, be sure to take the right precautions. A special solar filter (in addition to your protective eyewear) is needed to protect your camera and your eyes. Learn more safety tips from NASA here.

Plan for more people. Approximately 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the path of the total eclipse. That means we will likely see an influx of people. It also means you should plan for extra travel time and pack some extra patience.

Pack some water. If you’re planning to attend an eclipse viewing party in town, watch from an area park or just witness it in your own backyard, make sure you stay hydrated. It’s the middle of August, and it will be hot!

Protect your skin. Whether it’s a partial, total or non-eclipse, protecting your skin against the harmful rays of the sun is always smart. Make sure you use sunscreen and reapply regularly, or cover your skin with clothing, if you plan to be outside for long periods.

For more information about The Great American Solar Eclipse, visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/interactive_map/index.html

Find additional area eclipse information here