On the Eve of the August 21 Eclipse

The August 21 total solar eclipse is just hours away. The latest weather forecast for Monday August 21 is for partly cloudy skies in Chicago. There is a chance of rain in the afternoon.

You can read previous posts leading up to the eclipse  here, here, and here.

I wanted to share with you some more things to know about solar eclipses, and this particular total solar eclipse on August 21---

A solar eclipse occurs only during a new moon.  Because of the relative distance between the sun and the moon, the sun appears almost the same size as the moon!

An eclipse does not occur at every new moon because of the moon's tilted orbit. The alignment of the sun, earth and moon has to be just right.

During totality, the corona of the sun is visible. This is an opportunity for solar scientists to study the corona, solar flares, sunspots, and other phenomena.

During totality, there is a chance that a hidden comet may become visible! In fact, a sun grazing comet was spotted yesterday. Comets often appear in bunches, so there may be more.

During an eclipse, animals react to the twilight and darkness. Nocturnal creatures become active. The temperature can drop as much as 20 degrees.

Eclipses occur in cycles. This eclipse is part of a cycle called Saros 145. This pattern began in 1639 and will end in 3009, according to Fred Espenak, a retired NASA eclipse expert.  Monday’s total solar eclipse is the 22nd eclipse of this 77-event run. You can read more here.

Long ago, people worshipped the sun and the moon as deities. In some cultures, a total eclipse meant the end of the world, a sign of the apocalypse. In history, comets and eclipses have been interpreted as omens for the fortunes of armies and the downfall of kings.

How different we are today, with our modern devices! But we have not forgotten. We are children of the universe.  We share this  moment, this weather, this sky.



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  • Dilemma is that if clouds obscure the eclipse, does one then need the glasses?

  • Yes, Jack, please wear the glasses. Even if the sky is overcast, we will still be able to feel the effects of the partial eclipse, and there could still be eye damage looking at the sun.

  • Thanks for the update, we'll see what happens tomorrow!

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thanks, Kathy. Yes, it's going to be quite a day!

  • Turned out to be a bummer here (and from WGN reports from Naperville and the Adler Planetarium) around most of the area.
    Looking out at about 11:30, there was just a bright area in the overhead sky through the clouds. I then decided to rely on the TV, and while the Carbondale area had shadows except at totality, my area did not. An hour later, no difference.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Jack. It was cloudy here, too, but there were brief moments of visibility. Yes, I was wearing eclipse glasses. I did see the crescent sun! It got darker then, the light was really eerie. No shadows, And so silent. No insects or birds.

    I watched SLOOH online. They were in Idaho. Good coverage and great visibility. People were moved to tears. So was Tom Skilling in Carbondale.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    WGN Morning News had an apparent contest of whether their Tom Skilling or ABC's Larry Mowry cried more.

    No way I would have seen anything here until 4 pm.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, I was crying at the clouds, too. Many stunning images of totality, but I love the pictures of crescent shadows from the trees and even colanders!

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