Solar eclipse: Anticipation grows as millions wait for clear skies

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  • By Mike Wendling in Chicago and Emma Vardy in Texas
  • bbc news

Eclipse watchers are closely monitoring the weather ahead of a solar eclipse that will plunge a wide swath of North America into daytime darkness on Monday.

Forecasters predict cloudy conditions in northern Mexico, Texas and parts of the Great Lakes region.

Better weather is expected in western Mexico and parts of the Midwestern United States.

And some of the best views are likely to be under clear spring skies in New England and Canada.

Starting in the Pacific Ocean, the eclipse will be visible off the coast of Mexico near the city of Mazatlán at around 11:07 local time (19:07 BST).

The Moon’s shadow will cross the Earth at a speed of 2,400 km/h (1,500 mph), arcing northeastward through the states of Durango and Coahuila before leaving parts of Texas, Arkansas and the states in darkness. neighbors.

As the path crosses the American Midwest, a phenomenon known as totality – when the Sun is completely obscured by the Moon – will cross the cities of Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo.

Around 3:18 p.m. Eastern Time (7:18 p.m. GMT), the eclipse will reach Niagara Falls, where a record crowd of up to a million people is expected to turn out to watch the mist from the famous waterfall take on a pink tone, whenever the weather cooperates.

The shadow will continue to travel northeast across the New England states and into the Maritime Provinces of Canada before entering the Atlantic Ocean ending at 20:55 BST.

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What will be the weather for the solar eclipse?

The eclipse is the first this century to cross all three North American countries.

Here’s a breakdown of when totality will occur in cities across the US and Canada, all in local time:

  • San Antonio, Texas: 1:33 PM Central Time (7:33 PM BST)
  • Dallas, Texas: 1:40 p.m. Central Time
  • Carbondale, Illinois: 1:59 p.m. Central Time
  • Cleveland, Ohio: 3:13 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Buffalo, New York: 3:18 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Burlington, Vermont: 3:26 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Montreal, Quebec: 3:27 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Fredricton, New Brunswick: 16:33 Atlantic
  • Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador: 17:12 Newfoundland time

Special events, festivals and even mass weddings will be held in the towns and cities across the way.

NASA and its partner organizations are hosting more than 100 events, including gatherings where the eclipse will be visible for the first time from the ground in Mazatlán, at the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana.

Crowds will fill a football stadium in Carbondale, Illinois, where the path of Monday’s eclipse will intersect with the path of the last solar eclipse to pass through the United States, in 2017.

The main variable for many viewers will be the weather here on Earth.

In its latest eclipse forecast on Sunday, the US National Weather Service warned of possible severe conditions, including heavy rain, tornadoes and hail, that could affect travel in Texas and nearby states. The view in San Antonio is expected to be almost completely obscured by clouds.

The Sun will be partially obscured even thousands of miles away from totality, but the most dramatic events will be experienced by those in its direct path. Some locations will experience totality for nearly four and a half minutes.

The Moon will completely cover the Sun, with only the corona, the star’s bright outer atmosphere, being visible. Temperatures will drop and wind patterns and cloud formations could change. Some animals will be tricked into believing that day has turned into night and that stars and planets may be seen in the sky.

Before the eclipse, authorities were reporting increased traffic and demand for places to stay from astronomy enthusiasts, some of whom were planning their trips months or years in advance.

According to NASA, 31.6 million people live along the path of totality, and millions more are expected to travel to glimpse the celestial event.

NASA estimates that 215 million American adults (88% of the population) directly or electronically viewed the last North American solar eclipse in 2017.

At the Starry Night RV park in Fort Worth, Texas vehicles packed with eclipse watchers arrived to set up camp ready for the big moment.

Owner Lindsey Kuhn told the BBC: “It’s becoming a big problem, people from all over drive here.”

“I’ve been trying to explain to my daughter that it’s going to get dark, and she asked me, ‘Are we going to have to go to sleep?’

“We’re going to be together, put on the glasses and take a selfie, it’s once in a lifetime for us.”


Sky watchers test their eclipse glasses in Texas

Except during the period of totality, special glasses are needed to view the partial stages of the eclipse. Experts warn that regular sunglasses don’t work and looking at the sun, even through a camera or smartphone, can cause eye damage in seconds.

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Here’s how to view the solar eclipse safely

Some schools are closed or have allowed students to be absent on Monday, while others have planned special viewing events.

If weather affects Monday’s event, eclipse watchers in North America will have to wait a bit. The next total solar eclipse widely visible from the US and Canada will occur in 2044.

What are the stages of the eclipse?

By Science Editor Jonathan Amos


Possible stages: partial eclipse (top left), diamond ring (top right), Baily beads (bottom left), totality (bottom right), and a view of the crown (center)

Partial eclipse: The Moon progressively covers the disk of the Sun. Everything becomes darker and darker.

Diamond ring: The last vestige of strong sun diminishes until it becomes a brilliant point of light, as if it were a large diamond.

Baily Accounts: As the diamond dissipates, the remaining light shines through the deep valleys of the Moon’s edge.

Whole: Day turns into night, but also be attentive to changes in temperature, wind, clouds and birdsong.

Crown: Your chance to see the Sun’s hidden secret: the delicate tendrils of light in our star’s outer atmosphere, its corona.

And then everything happens in reverse. The whole is broken with the accounts. The diamond reappears and expands the light to its normal blinding intensity, and the crown is hidden once more.

More about the solar eclipse

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