2017 Total Solar Eclipse: What you will see

Sky at Totality (WPDE Graphic)

On Monday August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cut across the entire United States. And wherever you are, you will be able to see it. But what exactly will you see?

Here’s what to expect in our area.

PARTIAL ECLIPSE – Everyone will see this no matter where you live along the Grand Strand, across the Pee Dee or on the Border Belt.

1:15pm - The eclipse begins as the moon touches the sun and takes its first tiny nibble out of the solar disk. During the next hour or so, the moon hides more and more of the sun, but you won’t notice a thing unless you are wearing protective eyewear and looking directly at the sun to see the bite in the sun getting bigger. Make sure you have your protective eyewear on!

2:00pm - 33% of the sun is covered by the moon.

2:15pm - 50% or half of the sun is covered and the light begins to slowly fade, though undetectable at first.

2:35pm - 2:45pm - 85% - 99% of the sun is covered. The sky is gradually getting darker and takes on a dark blue hue while objects on the ground take on hues of gray, much like you see in the shadows at sunset. It’s as if someone is gradually dimming the lights. Shadows become sharper and more detailed and the temperature may drop more than 5º. Assuming the sky is clear, Venus will appear west-northwest of the sun. In addition to Venus, the bright star Regulus may appear right above the sun/moon and Mars to the right. It simply looks and feels eerie outside. It’s important to remember that even with 99% of the sun covered, you still must protect your eyes!

If you’re not in the path of totality, that’s as good as it gets. The moon will gradually move away revealing more of the sun and by 4:15pm, the eclipse is over.

For those in the path of totality, the very best is yet to come. It’s a sight like no other. It’s compelled people to travel to the path from all over the world. While you may think 99% coverage is good enough, it isn’t.

Even when 99% of the sun is covered by the moon, that remaining 1% of sun light still produces 10,000 times more light as a full moon! That's more than enough light to hide amazing celestial objects in the heavens only seen during totality. I can’t stress it enough…get to totality!

TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE - Southern Williamsburg & southern Georgetown counties. If you live along or south of a line from Kingstree, Andrews, Georgetown & Pawleys Island, you’ll experience totality!

Here’s what happens in those precious few minutes leading up to and during totality. Keep in mind, it’s going to happen very quickly.

2:45-2:48pm In the last few minutes before totality, the sky surrounding the sun grows darker quickly and will turn from deep blue to twilight blue, and then to bluish-black. Additional stars and planets will pop out of nowhere and animals start to settle in as if night is falling.

In the last few seconds before totality, the moon’s shadow suddenly springs up out of the Earth and takes over the whole sky like a gigantic curtain being pulled over you at supersonic speed. On the ground, your shadow will become clear and thin, and then will vanish completely as the sun's light fades.

Moments before totality, all that remains of the sun are a few shafts of light shining through deep valleys on the moon’s edge. The result is a few brilliant beads (Baily’s Beads) of shimmering light that disappear one after another within seconds. Then, only a single bead remains and it shines like a brilliant diamond set into a pale white ring created by the corona surrounding the moon’s black silhouette. This is the famous “diamond ring” effect. Don't miss it! It only lasts for 2-3 seconds.

Totality arrives. The diamond ring effect vanishes and the sun’s surface is completely hidden revealing the full glory of the stunning pearly white glow of the corona, the sun’s atmosphere. Wisps of bright light dance and shimmer around the edge of the moon’s black disc. During totality, it is perfectly safe to take off your protective eyewear and view the eclipse with your naked eye.

At totality, the sky will be as dark is it is on a clear night with a full moon. In addition to Venus appearing, Mars may be visible and a few bright stars will pop out. Take a moment to look at the horizon. Just outside the small band of totality, roughly 70 miles wide, the sun is still dimly shining. Shades of orange and red normally seen at sunset or sunrise will create a beautiful 360° glow around the horizon in the middle of the day. The temperature may fall 10º. Depending on where you are in the path of totality, the show will last from a few seconds to 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

And then as quickly as it came, totality will end, and everything will happen in reverse: The diamond ring, the Baily's beads, and the rising of the temperature. The moon will then begin pulling away from the front of the sun’s disk, returning the land to just another summer day. Remember to put your eclipse glasses back on after totality.

What if it's cloudy? You won’t see all the cool stuff happening on the sun's disk, but it will get just as dark, if not darker!

The next Total Solar Eclipse in the United States will be April 8, 2024. In the Carolinas, we won't see another until March 30, 2052.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off