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Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Introduction

On Monday, August 21, 2017, people in South Carolina may see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights - a total solar eclipse. Use this guide to learn more.

Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017

The Total Solar Eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017. The path of totality will start in Salem, Oregon and end in Charleston, South Carolina. Columbia will see a total solar eclipse (100% totality).  A total solar eclipse happens when the sun, moon and earth line up so perfectly that the moon blocks the sun, creating rare and spectacular effects across the sky and throughout the natural environment, including darkness in the middle of the day and the elusive “corona” effect around the sun, visible only during a 100% total solar eclipse.

During a total solar eclipse, strange phenomena occur:

  • Darkness in the middle of the day
  • Corona, “diamond ring” and other light effects around the sun
  • 360-degree sunset around the entire horizon; this deepens before darkness
  • Nocturnal animals emerge and begin “nighttime” routines
  • Birds come in to roost and stop chirping
  • Temperature drops 5-15 degrees
  • Stars and bright planets such as Mars, Venus, Mercury & Jupiter become visible
  • After the eclipse, as light breaks, birds chirp as if it is daybreak

How to use NASA's interactive, web-based 3D simulation

To use NASA's interactive, web-based 3D simulation, click anywhere on the image under the heading Eyes Eclipse 2017 Web Application on this page and preview your view of the August 21st, 2017 total eclipse. This will work in the web browser on your desktop, laptop, as well as newer tablets and phones, either in iOS or Android!  Just launch the website, click “Enter,” and away you go! This direct link to this application is:

Once you enter the site, first see the Earth, with the shadow of the moon on it. The largest circle is the part of the moon’s shadow called the penumbra, which will partially block the sun. The tiniest circle along the thin line in the center is called the umbra, and it is the only location where you can see a total eclipse of the sun. Click and drag on the Earth to move it around, or zoom in with your mouse to get close to the surface. You can simply click on any location to see an inset of the sun, and it will show how much the moon will block it during the eclipse. You can click and drag inside the inset window to change the time, or use the vertical time bar on the right side of the screen to go forward and backward over the three hour and twelve minute time frame that the eclipse happens in North America.

You can click on the “plus” button at the bottom of the screen and type in any city you want, and add it to the list of cities, like adding a bookmark. Then you can easily switch between various locations. The simulation is pre-loaded with the views for Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Next to the cities list is an icon of the Earth. Click on it to select alternate views, like the perspective from behind the far side of the moon, or have a look at the entire Earth/Moon/Sun system over two years to see why eclipses don’t happen frequently.

Total Solar Eclipse: Columbia, SC

At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers in the greater Columbia, S.C., area will experience the longest total solar eclipse on the East Coast. NASA estimates that South Carolina could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors to witness the first total solar eclipse to make a path all the way across the continental U.S. in 99 years. Columbia is the third largest city in the U.S. to be on the center line of totality and will experience 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in the middle of the afternoon. The length of totality for Charleston is 1 min. 30 seconds.  For Greenville, totality will last for 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

This monumental eclipse is projected to be the most viewed total eclipse in history. The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the greater Columbia, S.C., area is 2078.

Use this guide to learn more about statewide eclipse events, educational resources, activities and games, how to safely view the eclipse, and more!

Details for the Eclipse in Columbia, SC

Date: August 21, 2017
Eclipse Begins: 1:13 p.m.
Total Solar Eclipse: 2:41-2:44 p.m. (2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness)
Eclipse Ends: 4:06 p.m.
Percent Totality: 100% total eclipse 

Eyes Eclipse 2017 Web Application