Information Concerning the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse in Western North Carolina and in South Carolina

When is the eclipse?

The total solar eclipse will be Monday, August 21, 2017. First contact is when the moon just begins to pass in front of the sun and "take a dark bite" out of the image of the sun. This will occur around 1 p.m.
Depending on where you are, Totality will occur between 2:36 p.m. and 2:48 p.m. and lasts for a maximum of 2 minutes 40 seconds.
The eclipse ends when the total round disk of the sun reappears at just after 4:00 p.m.

What will the eclipse look like in the Catawba Valley?

Catawba County will NOT experience the total eclipse known as totality.
We will see about 97 percent coverage but the corona will not be visible here.

Here is what the eclipse will look like
at its maximum from the Catawba Valley
as seen through solar eclipse viewing glasses

Here is what the eclipse will look like
just before totality if you are in the path
of totality (see locations below)
You will NOT see this (called the diamond ring)
from the Catawba Valley!
You must use solar eclipse viewing glasses
to see the diamond ring

Here is what the eclipse will look like
at totality if you are in the path
of totality (see locations below)
You will NOT see this (called the corona)
from the Catawba Valley!

Where is the eclipse visible around here?

The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse path will happen in the far western portion of North Carolina and extend through upstate South Carolina, through Columbia and leaving the contentintal U.S. just above Chaleston. Refer to the maps below and from the internet or other publications. You will notice a "centerline" for the eclipse path. Extending above and below the centerline for several miles is a zone that defines the upper and lower limits of where totality can be experienced. The closer you are to the centerline, the longer the duration of totality, to a maximum of around 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Map of Totality in South Carolina
Communities in South Carolina that will experience Totality
Communities in North Carolina that will experience Totality
Communities in Tennessee that will experience Totality

There are scheduled eclipse viewing events at Catawba Science Center and several Catawba County Libraries on Monday, August 21. These events MAY have live video feeds from the path of totality, safe solar shoebox projectors and other activities, but not any telescopes for direct viewing.

What Equipment and Precautions Must I Take To See the Eclipse?

Safe Solar Eclipse Glasses

No matter where you are, you will need safe certified Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses. These are special glasses that will block 99.999% of the visible sunlight as well as the invisible ultra-violet and infrared rays. You will need these glasses during the entire time of the partial phase of the eclipse.

The Catawba Valley Astronomy Club has a few FREE solar Eclipse glasses available at Lucile Miller Observatory in Maiden. They may be picked up at our public observing nights on Friday, August 4 and Friday August 18. The observatory will be open around 9 p.m. rain or shine on those evenings. We expect to run out of these glasses shortly. The Catawba Science Center has Safe Solar Eclipse Glasses for sale in their gift shop. A number of retailers and home improvement centers have safe solar glasses and even safe solar binoculars for sale.

#14 Green Welders Glass

A #14 welders glass (available from any place that sells welding supplies) is save to use to view the partial phase of the eclipse. A #12 glass will produce a brighter but uncomfortable image. A #12 glass should be used only for several seconds of viewing at a time!

Solar Eclipse Shoebox Projector

There are numerous plans online for constructing a simple and safe solar projector. Bear in mind that these items are PROJECTORS AND NOT CAMERAS! You DO NOT hold them to your eye!!!! Shoebox projectors are useful to show the crescent phase during the partial phase of the eclipse. The are pretty much useless for solar viewing except during a solar eclipse.

Solar Shoebox Projector Video


DON'T look at the partial eclipse with your naked eyes, you will go blind.

DON'T look at the partial eclipse with only regular sunglasses, you will go blind.

DON'T look at the partial eclipse with a telescope or binoculars. you will go blind, the instrument will become too hot to touch, it will melt, the glass optics will shatter (into your eye) and you may set your clothing or hair on fire! (These things have actually happened. You do not need to confirm the experiment)

DON'T use any kind of homemade solar filter. It may be dark but most likely it will not protect you from infrared and ultraviolet radiation. You will not feel them as they destroy your eyes!

What About Using My Binoculars or Small Telescope?

Unless you have the proper safe solar filters designed for your binoculars and telescope, And you have been properly trained on solar observing, then it is UNSAFE to use your telescope or binoculars at any time to view this eclipse!

A properly filtered telescope or binoculars will not provide you with any better view that you will get with safe solar eclipse viewing glasses. (this does not apply to folks who have special solar observing systems.) Using a telescope or binoculars to view the sun is WAY beyond something that an inexperience observer should attempt. If you want to observe the sun with optics, Please join an astronomy club or seek the advise of experience solar observers. Do not attempt to do this without instruction!

What About Traveling to the Path of Totality?


Good luck finding lodging in towns along the path of totality at this late date! If you do find a room, expect to pay three times the going rate!

What About Traffic?

There is no advantage to viewing the eclipse from a major city or roadway. Expect the major roadways in the path of totality to be clogged Monday. We recommend you find a place away from a back road away from major towns and big highways.

Get to your observing location early, not later than Noon Monday. Under no circumstances should you find yourself driving at eclipse time, between 2 and 3 p.m.!

Do NOT pull off to the breakdown lane of the interstate highways to view this eclipse! You cannot look at the eclipse and drive.

Can I photograph the Eclipse?

You will destroy your phone or camera if you aim it at the sun during any part of the eclipse except during totality, and then only if you are in the path of totality!.

Photographing a solar eclipse requires special solar filters for your camera. You cannot use solar eclipse glasses for this purpose. Your phone will produce only a tiny dot of the sun because of the wide angle nature of the phone camera.

A DSLR camera should have at least a 500mm focal length lens to produce an image of the sun during partial phases and totality. Of course a DSLR MUST have an appropriate solar filter designed for use with a camera. Solar filters designed for photography are not to be used directly with your eye! They are not as strong as solar eclipse viewing glasses.

If this is your first time seeing a total solar eclipse, concentrate of just viewing it! You will find that monkeying around with cameras will cause you to miss SEEING the eclipse. Let the pros shoot the pictures, they will be all over the internet anyway!

Stay Tuned! More information to come !