NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has released a cloudiness map predicting the weather conditions for August’s eclipse. During the total solar eclipse, the sun will be completely covered by the moon and turn day into night for nearly three minutes. This means spectators do not have a lot of time to prepare for totality, and they might not be able to see it at all due to something beyond our control -- clouds.
The cloudiness map states, “We found that the coasts could be susceptible to cloudier conditions and that increased cloud cover may be possible as the eclipse travels across the country east of the Mississippi River.” This prediction is being pulled from past weather trends or rather “Historically speaking, cloudiness may factor into each location’s chance for a good viewing. NOAA’s NCEI and the Cooperative Institutes for Climate and Satellites–North Carolina (CICS-NC) reviewed past cloud conditions for August 21.”
(The darker the dot, the greater the chance for cloudiness at the hour of peak viewing during the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Dots represent automated weather stations that reported the cloudiness data and show the 10-year cloudiness average for August 21, 2001–2010. Map developed by CICS-NC in cooperation with NOAA NCEI, Deborah Riddle.)
But the chance of clouds will not stop thousands from preparing for the eclipse, and NOAA reminds participants “Ultimately, the cloudiness calculations are based on past observations, which are no guarantee of future outcomes. For predictions of actual conditions closer to the day of the eclipse, check your location’s forecast at NOAA's Weather.gov as early as seven days prior to the event.”
To prepare for the eclipse, the most important thing to remember is eye safety. The next most important aspect is to have fun, of course. The eclipse is the first of its kind in decades and should be enjoyed by everyone. Look into local events happening along the path of the eclipse, all the way from Oregon to South Carolina.
An organization called Eclipse Megamovie 2017 is preparing for eclipse day with big plans in motion. Their mission is to “gather images of the 2017 total solar eclipse from over 1,000 volunteer photographers and amateur astronomers, as well as many more members of the general public. We’ll then stitch these media assets together to create an expanded and continuous view of the total eclipse as it crosses the United States.”
The project is backed by Google as well as Multiverse Team at Berkley University of California. The site also has tips for eclipse safety, as well as a simulator where you can see the projected path from different areas in the United States.
If weather conditions are not clear in your area, or you are not able to make it out and see the eclipse, NASA will be broadcasting for four hours. To make sure everyone is able to see the phenomenon as it occurs, NASA as well as national and local TV will have live coverage of the event.