Partial solar eclipse will be visible in Richmond next month

RICHMOND, VA. (WRIC) — It may not be getting dark here in Richmond, but we will be able to see the partial eclipse next month.

On August 21, a total solar eclipse will be viewed from Oregon to South Carolina, with about 12 million people in its path. Solar eclipses occur on average once every 18 months, but the last time the United States saw an eclipse from the West Coast to the East Coast was on June 8, 1918.

“There’s a total solar eclipse somewhere on average about every 18 months,” Justin Bartel, the astronomer at the Science Museum of Virginia, said. “They’re going to occur mostly over an ocean and or a middle of a desert.”

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a shadow on the Earth.

The penumbra and the umbra are the two parts of the moon’s shadow.

“There’s the kind of fuzzy penumbra where some sunlight still shines around the moon and the umbra is the darkest part of the shadow. That’s where the sun is entirely blocked,” Bartel explained.

The eclipse will begin in the afternoon and peak at 2:45 p.m. here in Richmond. 85 percent of the sun will be blocked out and will be noticeable.

Because it will be a partial eclipse, safety measures are highly recommended. A popular method is by wearing eclipse glasses, which has a protective film to safely observe the sun.

“If you’re eyes aren’t protected, it’s like looking at the sun on a normal day,” Bartel warned.

South Carolina is the closest location to Richmond to see the totality of the eclipse. The next total eclipse in the United States will be April 8, 2024.

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If you are looking for a fun way to observe the eclipse, the Science Museum of Virginia will be hosting a Viewing Party from noon to 4 p.m. on August 21. They will be hosting their event on their front lawn and will have food, entertainment, and even eclipsed-themed craft beers available. The first 500 guests will also receive free eclipse glasses.

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