Many across the country are gearing up to view a total solar eclipse next week, which occurs when the moon completely blocks the sun.
“The Great American Eclipse” will pass right across the center of the continental United States. Cities along the path of totality include Salem, Ore., Nashville, Tenn, and both Columbia and Charleston, S.C.
View the partial solar eclipse in Hawaii
Here in Hawaii, only about a quarter of of the sun will be obscured.
“The sun will rise in Honolulu at 6:20 a.m. on the morning of August 21 in partial eclipse, with about one-third of the sun’s disk blocked by the moon. For the next hour, viewers using safe viewing devices (and a clear eastern horizon – the sun will still be low in the east, in this hour after dawn) will see the moon slowly uncover the sun. By 7:25 a.m. in Honolulu the eclipse will be over.”
“That’s actually very fascinating to see that the sun is not looking like normal, but you can actually see half of it being obscured by the moon,” said Guenther Hasinger, director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. “But this is nothing against the actual experience of a full solar eclipse when it’s pitch dark, when the birds are stopping to sing, when the whole nature is kind of an eerie spooky appearance.”
So what’s the big deal anyway?
“There will not be another total, even partial eclipse of the sun, seen from Hawaii until the year 2024, so it’s our last chance in about seven years to see even a partial eclipse of the sun,” said Mike Shanahan, Bishop Museum director of visitor experience and planetarium.
Shanahan says the best view will be on the east side, where the sun rises “so we would recommend looking over the ocean, for example. Make sure you have no hills, no buildings, ideally no clouds in your way.”
Experts stress you should only view the eclipse using certified eclipse viewers or glasses. Solar eclipse viewers were available at Bishop Museum, but have already sold out.
“You do need some way to view it, because you wouldn’t even have an idea an eclipse was happening unless you had a way to view the sun directly,” Shanahan explained. “There won’t be any drop in the light here, because it’s a partial, not a total eclipse of the sun.”
Watch NASA’s live stream of the total eclipse right here on KHON2.com
If you’d like to watch the total eclipse, KHON2.com will carry a live stream from NASA that will come from 50 separate cameras attached to balloons at 100,000 feet at spots across the country. Viewers can watch the presented feed, or choose from a selection of cameras through a link inside the player.
The stream will run from approximately 6:15 to 9:50 a.m. HST. It will be strictly video and not include any commentary.
“To witness the event, when you are going from full daylight to nighttime, well it happens over an hour, but the last bit is very, very quick and all of sudden, you are immersed in darkness and you see this bright corona shimmering in the sky. It’s something very, very unique,” said Shadia Rifai Habbal, an astronomer at the UH Institute for Astronomy.
Excitement brews on the mainland
We spoke with former KHON2 reporter Brent Remadna, who is now in Nashville working for our sister station, WKRN.
“We’ve got people coming from England, from New Jersey, all over the United States, all over the world,” he said. “I talked to people coming here from Japan just to see this, because it is one of the better cities to go to to see this. We’re going to be in complete darkness. I think we’re expecting about two minutes of total darkness here in Nashville.”
But if you’re making the trip and you don’t have a hotel room by now, you’re in trouble.
We did find one room available in Nashville — in a mansion that will cost you $2,000 a night.
In Albany, Ore., you can get a room at the Super 8 Motel for $1,400 a night. The week after, the cost goes back down to $67.
Some say the experience is worth the money.
“During a total eclipse, the moon entirely blocks the sun’s outer surface. The land goes dark. You see the beautiful corona of the sun,” Shanahan said.
“We’re calling it the epic eclipse down here, and it’s going to be pretty epic, I think,” Remadna said. “With the number of people, the excitement is building, so it’s going to be big.”