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Delawareans will be treated to a partial eclipse on Aug. 21

Courtesy of NASA
The shadow of an eclipse from space, taken during a solar eclipse on Aug. 11, 1999.

On Aug. 21, millions of people throughout the United States will be treated to a total solar eclipse, a rare-occurring event when the moon passes in front of the sun and day turns to night for just a few minutes.

But while Delaware isn't on the path of totality, John Gizis, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Delaware, says there is still something to look forward to in the First State.


“Many more people will see a partial solar eclipse. Here in Delaware, the moon will cover 80 percent of the sun, which is a lot but it’s not gonna make the really dramatic thing where day turns to night,” Gizis said.

A partial eclipse is when the moon only covers a part of the sun after passing between the sun and the earth. They're more frequent than total solar eclipses. The last partial eclipse in the U.S. happened Oct. 23, 2014, according to NASA.

The path of the total solar eclipse will sweep from Oregon to South Carolina. It’s the first one to happen in a contiguous United States since 1979.


“They were saying it would be many years until there was another total solar eclipse in the U.S. and somehow after all these years it’s finally happening,” Gizis said.


Gizis knows firsthand how memorable a total eclipse can be. In 1991, he was working at the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico and when he found out the total solar eclipse would be visible from Mexico, he knew he did not want to miss out.

He and three of his friends drove through Mexico to the path of the eclipse, where they found a beach where everyone was set up to watch it. 


“People shared their telescopes and it was a wonderful experience. It was certainly one of the most memorable things I’ve done in my life,” Gizis said. 

Gizis said even though Delaware will only have a partial eclipse, people still need proper eye protection to see it. You can find a list of eclipse glasses vendors and safe viewing tips on NASA's eclipse website.


Since we won’t be able to see much from Delaware, Gizis said he expects a lot of people will be traveling to the path of the eclipse to see it. Many hotels in the best viewing spots in Oregon, Tennessee and South Carolina have already sold out. 

An interactive map for the 2017 total solar eclipse can be viewed here.

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