12 September 2017
Partial Eclipse Dims Down The Sky at Fort Detrick
Lanessa Hill, USAG Public Affairs


Photo by Patrick McKinney, USAG Safety Office
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On Aug. 21, North America was treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path was able to see one of nature's most awe-inspiring sights - a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon completely covers the sun and the sun's tenuous atmosphere - the corona - can be seen, stretched from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path were still able to see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun's disk. Lots of people. People in North America, plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe saw at least a partial solar eclipse, while the thin path of totality will pass through portions of 14 states.

A total eclipse was viewable throughout a 70-mile wide path that crossed 14 of the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. The umbra, or dark inner shadow, of the moon traveled from west to east from almost 3,000 miles per hour, in western Oregon, to 1,500 miles per hour in South Carolina.

At precisely 2:41 p.m., here in Frederick, Maryland, experienced a partial solar eclipse and many people at Fort Detrick viewed the sun through their homemade pinhole boxes or through glasses they fortunate to find and purchase. During a partial solar eclipse, the moon, the sun and Earth don't align in a perfectly straight line, and the moon casts only the outer part of its shadow, the penumbra, on Earth. From our perspective, this looks like the Moon has taken a bite out of the Sun. The last total eclipse in the contiguous United States occurred on Feb26, 1979. The last total eclipse that crossed the entire continent occurred on June 8, 1918. Experiencing a total solar eclipse where you live happens on average about once in 375 years.

About 200 million people live within one day's drive of the path of this total eclipse. In addition, millions of Americans will be able to view a partial eclipse, weather permitting. The lunar shadow exited the East Coast of the U.S. at 4:09 p.m. For additional eclipse FAQs visit: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/faq.
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