The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 is going to offer a rare and wacky opportunity to check out stars you normally can’t see in the US in late summer.
While a partial eclipse will be visible for all to see in North America, those gathered along the path of totality — a 70-mile-wide strip stretching diagonally across the entirety of the continental US — will get to experience the moon fully blocking out the sun.
That’s where the sky will go dark for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds, depending on your location. The main event will be the blacked-out sun surrounded by its glowing corona, the outer atmosphere usually obscured by the sun’s bright light.
But there will be surprising views across the rest of the sky, too. The stars normally made invisible by the sun during the day will blink into view — and what you see will be very different from what you can usually observe when staring up at the sky during the summer. That’s because as the earth fully rotates on its axis every day, the stars directly above the US are shifting too.
Only the brightest stars will likely be visible, according to Irwin Horowitz, an astronomy instructor at the College of Western Idaho. “Even in totality, it’s sort of like a deep twilight at best,” Horowitz told BuzzFeed News. “So you’ll see the bright stars, but you won’t be seeing full constellations in most cases.”
These starry views won’t be totally new. They are the ones that mainly show up on spring and winter nights, when the earth is in a different position in space along its orbit around the sun. Several planets in our solar system will also be visible.
Here are BuzzFeed News’ top six recommendations for stargazing during the total eclipse:
3. Ursa Major
4. Canis Major
6. Four whole planets!
Zahra Hirji is a science reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco
Contact Zahra Hirji at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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