The first total solar eclipse of the century is coming on August 21! They've been visible above the United States in the past, but they've taken different paths.
A total eclipse is a sight to behold. It happens when the moon slides between the earth and the sun, blocking the sun for a while. The last time this happened in the U.S. was in July of 1991, but it could only be seen from Hawaii. The last total eclipse to cross the lower 48 states was in February of 1979 and darkened mainly the pacific northwest.
The history of recorded total eclipses in America goes back much further. Ever since the country declared independence from England in 1776, 16 total eclipses have cast shadows across what was or would eventually become U.S. soil. The first was in June of 1778. An article was published in the North Carolina Weekly Gazette in Newbern where people there had a great view. The weather was described as "tolerably clear".
However, this eclipse was not seen from coast to coast. This last happened nearly a century ago in June of 1918. An article at the time from the Topeka State Journal in Kansas announced the next total eclipse which we'll see very soon.
The next eclipse will be seen from coast to coast, taking a path similar to the eclipse of 1918. It will start in Oregon instead of Washington state, and end in South Carolina instead of Florida. The upcoming total eclipse won't be visible anywhere else in the world. It'll be the only time since our nation's founding that a total solar eclipse will be exclusive to the U.S.
Spring City, TN is one of several towns in the Channel 3 viewing area in the path of the total eclipse. It's a big deal to city commissioner Jody Bauer.
"Most people have not been around to see an eclipse. The last time it happened here was in 1506," says Bauer.
Nine total eclipses will take place in parts of the U.S. this century after the one in August. The next one will be in April of 2024 over portions of Arkansas and southeast Missouri. The others will occur in 2033, 2044, 2045, 2052, 2078, 2079, 2097, and 2099.
The last total eclipse to occur on August 21 was in 1914 and the next will be in 2734, neither one in the U.S.