The greatest solar eclipse in 99 years
On August 21, for the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. from coast to coast. Williams College astronomer Jay Pasachoff will will lead a team of international scientists and four Williams students in Salem, Oregon, to observe the solar corona, the outermost layer of the sun’s atmosphere.
Seen from the Berkshires, he says, the eclipse will be partial and bright, as the moon will cover 71 percent of the sun. But in a 60- to 70-mile wide band from South Carolina to Oregon, the blue sky will turn black as the sun is extinguished. “The universe darkens around you,” Pasachoff says, “and the shadows are eerily sharp, because they are cast by a crescent of sun. The color balance changes as only part of the sun is shining.”