MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – What we are about to experience on August 21 will truly be epic.
Why? Because it may never happen again over Middle Tennessee in our lifetime.
“It’s been about 500 years since the last total solar eclipse passed right over us. Of course no one’s alive who remembers that,” explained Dr. Ron Henderson, Department Chair for Astronomy and Physics at Middle Tennessee State University. “The next one that passes over Murfreesboro will be in another 500 years.”
Total eclipses happen somewhere in the world once every 18 months, but for the complete shadow to hit a single location like Murfreesboro or Nashville, makes it even rarer. Some locations can wait thousands of years to experience it.
The best way to observe this once-in-a-lifetime event is with your own two eyes, but safety is a priority.
“The whole three-hour period of the moon coming onto the Sun, then the moon leaving the Sun, the whole three-hour period, you have got to have glasses on in order to be able to look up at the Sun,” advised Dr. Henderson.
They’re no ordinary Sun glasses either. Glasses for viewing the eclipse are made with a special film to block out most light.
“These are really, really opaque. These are as dark as welders’ glasses. So when you put these on and look at something other than the Sun, you will see nothing,” explained Dr. Henderson.
If you do not have special glasses, or you’re not in the path of complete darkness, MTSU has you covered.
If you are in the path of totality, you can just look up and see the big show.
Another way to observe it is through huge, expensive telescopes like the ones at MTSU.
One scope is going to follow the path of the Sun, while the other is going to look at it and livestream it on their website. The real fun will begin though when they whole sky goes completely dark. What you see can only happen in totality, planets and even stars.
“One thing that is unique about seeing these stars is because of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun; these are stars that are not typically visible this time of year. These are stars that you would typically see six months from now,” explained Dr. Henderson.
Not only is it a glimpse of the winter sky in the summer, you’ll also get to see something called corona, which happened to be discovered during a total solar eclipse, and is really, really hot.
“So while the surface of the sun is a few thousand degrees, this corona is known to be over a million degrees in temperature, so while it’s not on the surface of the Sun and farther away, it’s actually hotter,” said Dr. Henderson.
Because it’s so hot, you will see white, wavy lines, moving away from the Sun, which is only seen during totality.