On August 21, cities across the country such as Salem, Oregon, and Carbondale, Illinois, will plunge into total darkness for about two minutes. The total solar eclipse will be the first to stretch across the United States in almost 100 years and the country’s first total solar eclipse since 1991.
The path of totality is a “narrow band” of complete darkness 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina, according to Jay Pasachoff, an astronomy professor at Williams College in Massachusetts. Pasachoff is one of the many researchers, professors, students and curious community members who will gather across the country to watch the rare event.
A total solar eclipse is “when the moon totally blocks out the sun” and “when the sun, the moon (and) the earth all line up,” said Carina Cheng, a campus graduate student in the astronomy department. Cheng added that the eclipse is an exciting but rare event because lining up the moon between the sun and earth in the “same…