A solar eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017 and may be seen from all states in the United States of America as well as Mexico and Canada.

Before the Eclipse

Preparations are being made to observe the eclipse and to perform a number of experiments.

Dr. Bob Powell has created a PowerPoint presentation on "Darkness in the afternoon: The August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse." He is available to give this presentation for schools, churches, and civic clubs.

Contact Dr. Powell

The Day of the Eclipse

Faculty and students in the Department of Physics are planning to observe the eclipse at two locations: on campus in Carrollton, GA and on the path of totality near Lexington, SC.

Visit the Observatory

During the Solar Eclipse: Site 1

The observing site on campus is the West Georgia Observatory, which was established in November, 1979. It is used for astronomy class observations, student projects, and outreach, such as public observations during school year, programs for school groups, scouts, church groups, and civic clubs, and special public observations for comets, eclipses, transits, Mars.

On August 21, 2017, the West Georgia Observatory will be open from 1:00 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. for the observation of the eclipse. At mid-eclipse (2:33 p.m.), 95 5 of the solar disk will be covered. Ben Jenkins will be in charge of this public observation for the campus and the community.

In addition to providing opportunities for people to observe the eclipse safely, a photographs and a number of experiments will be performed.

Solar eclipse shades will be given to visitors to the observatory. These shades are provided by support from the following:

  1. Georgia Space Science Consortium grant P-49, "An Expansion of the UWG’s Solar and Night-Sky Observing Capabilities for K-12 Education and Outreach“ Sterling, Jenkins, Powell
  2. Department of Physics, University of West Georgia
  3. College of Science and Mathematics, University of West Georgia

During the Solar Eclipse: Site 2

On May 30, 2017, Bob Powell, Ben Jenkins, and Ben Team considered several sites near Lexington, South Carolina near the centerline for the path of totality,  They selected a site is near Lake Murray; it is about 500 meters from the centerline.

On August 21, 2017, Bob Powell and Ben Team will lead the University of West Georgia expedition to the path of totality. The faculty and students plan to do the following:

  1. Photographing the eclipse with still and video cameras
  2. Studying photosensitive plants
  3. Measuring air temperature, atmospheric pressure and brightness of the Sun
  4. Observing shadow bands, Bailey’s beads, diamond ring effect, Mercury, Venus and bright stars
  5. Conducting the Modern Eddington Experiment
  6. Studying the Sun with a small radio telescope

Warning: Solar Eclipse Shades Safety

  1. Look down toward the ground to place the shades on your nose and ears and make sure that your eyes are completely covered before looking at the Sun.
  2. Look down toward the ground when removing the solar shades.
  3. Check the shades for scratches or stretches. Discard the shades if the protective material becomes scratched or stretched.

Common Questions

  • What is an eclipse?

    An eclipse is an astronomical event which occurs when an astronomical object is temporarily obscured.

    The word is derived from the ancient Greek word ἔκλειψις (ékleipsis), which means "the darkening of a heavenly body." Records of eclipses have been found in ancient writings dating back over 3000 years.

  • When do eclipses occur?

    As demonstrated by Kepler and Galileo in the early seventeenth century, the Earth revolves around the Sun, and the Moon revolves around the Earth. Since the Moon reflects incident sunlight, its appearance depends on where it is located in its orbit about the Earth. This daily change produces phases of the Moon. As was done by the ancient observers, the Moon is said to be in the "new Moon" phase when it is close to a line drawn from the center of the Sun to the center of the Earth. The near side of the Moon is experiencing “lunar” night and does not reflect sunlight to the Earth. Over ensuing days as the Moon moves around the Earth, some of the hemisphere facing the Earth reflects sunlight, and the Moon is said to be in a “waxing crescent” phase. After about a week, the Moon is one-fourth around it orbit about the Earth. At that time, half of the hemisphere facing the Earth reflects sunlight. The Moon appears to be half-full, but this is properly called "first quarter."

    Over the next days, the moon is more than half-full and is said to have a "waxing gibbous" phase. When the Moon is on the other side of the Earth from the Sun (second quarter) the entire hemisphere facing the Earth is illuminated, and the Moon is in its "full moon" phase. As the Moon continues to revolve around the Earth, these phases are reversed, and the Moon is seen in its “waning gibbous,"  "third quarter" or "half full," and "waning crescent" phases until it is once again close to the line drawn between the center of the Sun and the center of the Earth, or "new Moon" phase.

    Blockage of sunlight can occur at two of these phases: new moon and full moon.

  • What are the types of eclipses?

    There are two types of eclipses seen on the Earth:

    1. Solar eclipses. The Moon blocks sunlight from reaching the Earth.  This occurs when the Moon is in its new moon phase.
    2. Lunar eclipses. The Earth blocks sunlight from reaching the Moon. This occurs when the Moon is full.

    Each of these types of eclipses have three sub-categories. The types of solar eclipses are partial, total and annular. The types of lunar eclipses are penumbral, partial, and total.

  • How does the Moon’s shadow produce a partial solar eclipse or a total solar eclipse?

    As shown in the diagram below, the Moon’s shadow has two parts. In the conical region marked with a “U,” the Moon blocks all light from the Sun. This part of the shadow is named the umbra of the Moon’s shadow. In the larger region surrounding the umbra and marked “P” in the diagram, light from some part of the Sun can be seen, but other part of the Sun is blocked. This region is not completely dark and is called the penumbra.

    Sun and Moon Diagram

    A partial solar eclipse occurs when the penumbra of the Moon’s shadow covers a portion of the Earth.  That is, only part of the solar disk is blocked by the Moon.

    The photograph below was made by Bob Powell during the partial solar eclipse on December 13, 1974 on the campus on the University of West Georgia. Eye damage can occur if one looks directly at the Sun during a partial eclipse. The photograph of the partially eclipsed Sun shown below was made through a solar filter that reduced the brightness of the Sun by 100,000 times.

    Solar Eclipse

    A total eclipse occurs when the umbra of the Moon’s shadowcovers a small portion of the surface of the Earth. That is, no direct light from the Sun travels to that area on the surface of the Earth. During the total phase of an eclipse, the Sun’s atmosphere (the corona) is visible. This gaseous region is normally not seen because of the brightness of the surface of the Sun.

    View Photos of a Total Solar Eclipse

    It is safe to look directly at the eclipsed Sun during the total phase of the eclipse. A partial eclipse precedes and follows the total phase of an eclipse because the umbra of the Moon’s shadow is surrounded by the penumbra of the Moon’s shadow.

  • How can the “small” Moon block all the light from the “huge” Sun?

    The Sun is about 400 times larger than the Moon, but the Sun is about 400 times further away from the Earth than the Moon.  Therefore, both these objects appear to be the same angular size in the sky.  This angular size is about one-half of a degree.

  • What is the path of totality?

    If the umbra of the Moon’s shadow strikes the surface of the Earth, its path as the Earth rotates, the Moon revolves around the Earth, and the Earth revolves around the Sun is the path of totality. Its width is often less than 125 kilometers wide. It can be thousands of kilometers in length.

    See a map showing the paths of totality for eclipses during the years 2000-2020.

  • What is an annular solar eclipse?

    Sometimes a central eclipse occurs when the apparent size of the Sun as seen on the Earth is greater than the apparent size of the Moon as seen on the Earth. When this occurs, the eclipse cannot be a total eclipse. It is an angular eclipse because a ring of the surface of the Sun is seen at mid-eclipse.

    The photograph below was made by Bob Powell during the May 30, 1984 annular eclipse near the entrance to Plant Yates on US 27 south of Whitesburg, GA.

    Total Solar Eclipse

  • Why do the apparent sizes of the Sun and Moon vary?

    The Earth revolves around the Sun in an elliptical orbit, and the Moon revolves around the Earth in an elliptical orbit. Hence the distance between the Sun and Earth and the Moon and the Earth vary.

  • What is the “great American” solar eclipse of 2017?

    The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 may be seen only in the new world. The only land mass on which the total phase may be seen is the United States of America. The path of totality crosses the United Sates from Oregon to South Carolina.

    View the Path of Totality across the State of Georgia and the State of South Carolina.

    The following table shows the eclipse parameters for some cities in the State of Georgia:

    City Maximum Coverage First Contact (ET) Mid-eclipse (ET) Last Contact (ET)
    Young Harris 100% 1:02 PM 2:38 PM 3:59 PM
    Dalton 99.3% 1:04 PM 2:34 PM 3:59 PM
    Athens 99.0% 1:07 PM 2:39 PM 4:03 PM
    Augusta 99.5% 1:11 PM 2:42 PM 4:06 PM
    Atlanta 96.7% 1:06 PM 2:36 PM 4:02 PM
    Carrollton 95.3% 1:04 PM 2:35 PM 4:01 PM
    Macon 95.2% 1:08 PM 2:39 PM 4:04 PM
    Savannah 96.7% 1:08 PM 2:46 PM 4:09 PM
    Brunswick 93.4% 1:15 PM 2:43 PM 4:11 PM
    Valdosta 89.3% 1:12 PM 2:43 PM 4:09 PM
    Albany 90.2% 1:09 PM 2:40 PM 4:06 PM
    • City: Young Harris

      Maximum Coverage: 100%

      First Contact (ET): 1:02 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:38 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 3:59 PM

    • City: Dalton

      Maximum Coverage: 99.3%

      First Contact (ET): 1:04 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:34 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 3:59 PM

    • City: Athens

      Maximum Coverage: 99.0%

      First Contact (ET): 1:07 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:39 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:03 PM

    • City: Augusta

      Maximum Coverage: 99.5%

      First Contact (ET): 1:11 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:42 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:06 PM

    • City: Atlanta

      Maximum Coverage: 96.7%

      First Contact (ET): 1:06 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:36 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:02 PM

    • City: Carrollton

      Maximum Coverage: 95.3%

      First Contact (ET): 1:04 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:35 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:01 PM

    • City: Macon

      Maximum Coverage: 95.2%

      First Contact (ET): 1:08 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:39 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:04 PM

    • City: Savannah

      Maximum Coverage: 96.7%

      First Contact (ET): 1:08 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:46 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:09 PM

    • City: Brunswick

      Maximum Coverage: 93.4%

      First Contact (ET): 1:15 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:43 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:11 PM

    • City: Valdosta

      Maximum Coverage: 89.3%

      First Contact (ET): 1:12 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:43 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:09 PM

    • City: Albany

      Maximum Coverage: 90.2%

      First Contact (ET): 1:09 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:40 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:06 PM

    The following table shows eclipse parameters for some cities in the State of South Carolina:

    City Maximum Coverage First Contact (ET) Mid-eclipse (ET) Last Contact (ET)
    Clemson 100% 1:08 PM 2:39 PM 4:02 PM
    Columbia 100% 1:13 PM 2:43 PM 4:06 PM
    Charleston 100% 1:17 PM 2:47 PM 4:10 PM
    Rock Hill 99% 1:12 PM 2:41 PM 4:04 PM
    Hilton Head Island 97.9% 1:15 PM 2:46 PM 4:10 PM
    Conway 99% 1:18 PM 2:47 PM 4:09 PM
    • City: Clemson

      Maximum Coverage: 100%

      First Contact (ET): 1:08 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:39 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:02 PM

    • City: Columbia

      Maximum Coverage: 100%

      First Contact (ET): 1:13 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:43 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:06 PM

    • City: Charleston

      Maximum Coverage: 100%

      First Contact (ET): 1:17 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:47 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:10 PM

    • City: Rock Hill

      Maximum Coverage: 99%

      First Contact (ET): 1:12 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:41 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:04 PM

    • City: Hilton Head Island

      Maximum Coverage: 97.9%

      First Contact (ET): 1:15 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:46 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:10 PM

    • City: Conway

      Maximum Coverage: 99%

      First Contact (ET): 1:18 PM

      Mid-eclipse (ET): 2:47 PM

      Last Contact (ET): 4:09 PM

    These maps may be enlarged.

    When a particular location is clicked, the beginning and ending times of the eclipse and the maximum blockage at that location are displayed on the screen.

  • What are safety considerations for viewing a partial eclipse of the Sun?

    It is dangerous to look at a partial eclipse of the Sun with the unaided eye. Even when the blockage of the Sun is 90% or greater, enough ultraviolet radiation is still being received to damage nerve endings in the eye. The following safety considerations should be followed:

    1. Do not look directly at the Sun, even during a partial eclipse.
    2. Do not look at the Sun though a camera, binoculars, or a telescope not covered with a recognized, safe solar filter.
    3. Do not use smoked glass, exposed photographic film, Polaroid sunglasses as filters.
  • How can one safely view a partial eclipse of the Sun?

    A partial solar eclipse may viewed safely in the following ways:

    1. Pinhole projection
    2. Projection though a telescope or binoculars onto a screen
    3. Viewing through a telescope equipped with a safe solar filter to reduce the brightness of the Sun by a factor of 100,000 times.
    4. Solar eclipse sunshades from a reputable vendor

What information will be available on this website after August 21, 2017?

If the sky was clear for the eclipse, photographs and results of other experiments will be posted on this webpage.

Who may be contacted for additional information or for answers to questions?

Dr. Bob Powell Mr. Ben Jenkins Mr. Ben Team

Professor of Physics
Director of the Observatory
Location Department of Physics
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA 30118
Email

Senior Lab Coordinator
Associate Director of the Observatory
Location Department of Physics
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA 30118
Email

Physics Instructor
Location Department of Physics
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA 30118
Email

  • Dr. Bob Powell:

    Professor of Physics
    Director of the Observatory
    Location Department of Physics
    University of West Georgia
    Carrollton, GA 30118
    Email



    Mr. Ben Jenkins:

    Senior Lab Coordinator
    Associate Director of the Observatory
    Location Department of Physics
    University of West Georgia
    Carrollton, GA 30118
    Email



    Mr. Ben Team:

    Physics Instructor
    Location Department of Physics
    University of West Georgia
    Carrollton, GA 30118
    Email