Partial Solar eclipse courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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By Peter Vankevich

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will be visible on Aug. 21 to spectators across the contiguous United States in a path from Oregon to South Carolina.

Those curious to see how significant the solar eclipse on Monday will be in their area can get a preview by typing  in a city name or a zip code on a website prepared by Time Magazine here. .

Seven counties in the far western part of the state–Cherokee, Graham, Clay, Swain, Macon, Jackson, and Transylvania–are in the path of totality. Almost everywhere else in North Carolina will experience a partial eclipse of 90 percent totality or more, according to the N.C. Dept. of Transportation’s website here. The peak time on Ocracoke will be 2:49 p.m. 

Upwards of one million people are expected to travel to and through North Carolina on Monday and those counties  should expect high traffic. 

During the total solar eclipse, daylight will fade like dusk, go to darkness and then have a dawn-like experience in the middle of the day. People in the path of total eclipse will have approximately two minutes and 30 seconds when the moon will completely block the sun, and they will be able to see the details of the sun’s atmosphere, or corona.

No one should gaze into the sun during  this time as any other since it could  cause permanent damage to the eyes.  The Sky and Telescope website provides important information on how to safely observe the total or partial eclipse here.

Duke Energy in its online publication, Illumination, reported that solar energy production in North Carolina will drop from about 2,500 megawatts to 200 megawatts in 1 1/2 hours.

North Carolina is second to California in producing solar power, providing enough energy to power nearly 600,000 homes. Duke Energy manages energy from more than three quarters of the roughly 3,200 megawatts of solar power in North Carolina. No disruptions in power are expected in the state due to this eclipse.

Total eclipses have been sources of great fascination over the years in folklore and popular culture. Boxing champ, Muhammad Ali when he was known as Cassius Clay wrote a poem in 1964 on how he would defeat Sonny Liston in his first bout for the World Championship. Clay won.  

A portion of the poem is below:

Liston keeps backing, but there’s not enough room,
It’s a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom.
Now Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing,
And the punch raises the Bear clean out of the ring.
Liston is still rising and the ref wears a frown,
For he can’t start counting till Sonny goes down.
Now Liston is disappearing from view, the crowd is going frantic,
But radar stations have picked him up, somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who would have thought when they came to the fight?
That they’d witness the launching of a human satellite.
Yes the crowd did not dream, when they put up the money,
That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.






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