2017 Total Solar Eclipse - August 21

The upcoming total solar eclipse coming on August 21st is easily the most anticipated astronomical event of the year. Put simply, a total solar eclipse is spectacular. We say that without any hyperbole. For many who get to view one of these, it becomes a life changing event. They then go on to chase these eclipses throughout the world.

Milwaukee Astronomical Society Observatory - Open House?

Our club hosts about 7 "open house" nights at our observatory every year where we share the universe with the public. We love doing this because we enjoy showing the public views of the heavens and often it is their first look through a telescope. But we also will host certain astronomical events such as Mercury and Venus transits, lunar eclipses, and solar eclipses.

With all the buzz about this solar eclipse, you might wonder why our observatory will not be open to the public and actually, it won't be open, period. That is because almost every member of our club won't be in the Milwaukee area. We will be traveling south to be in the path of totality. The problem is this solar eclipse will only be seen as a "total" eclipse in a 68-mile path that cuts through the middle of the United States. And though the path does not go through Wisconsin, it is fairly easy driving distance from the Milwaukee area.

Partial vs. Total     

The image below shows the path of totality. If you are not within that gray area, you will only experience a partial solar eclipse.

So if you stay in the Milwaukee area, you will only get to view a partial eclipse.

As you can see, the moon will not completely cover the sun. At around 1:18PM the eclipse will max out at just 83% coverage. That is not insignificant. You will definitely notice that things are not as bright. We would describe it as if you were wearing sun glasses. There will be a slight temperature drop, but it will be unnoticeable. The sad fact is that most people will come away with the reaction, "What was the big deal?"

In the Path - The Big Deal

Though it is hard to put into words what it's like to see a total solar eclipse, here are some to let you know why it's such a big deal. Here is a very good description of the whole eclipse experience. It really chronicles the many reasons why nearly all the members of the Milwaukee Astronomical Society will be traveling to get into the path of totality.

All About the Solar Eclipse

If you're looking for a good research for finding out about the eclipse, read Sky & Telescopes excellent article here.