Eclipse will darken the skies this week for the first time in nearly 100 years

The Great American Solar Eclipse will pass across the continent on Monday, Aug. 21, for the first time since 1918.

The eclipse covers so much ground that it will be visible from coast to coast across America, with a 70 mile wide path of totality stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. It will pass across Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

A path of totality refers to areas where the sun will be 100 percent blocked out by the moon, when all three celestial bodies align just right in order to cast a total shadow. West Virginia is not in this path, but will still see a substantial amount of the sun become blocked as the moon passes in between the sun and Earth. This means that the sun will always be visible throughout the eclipse, including during the peak. Even when the sun is mostly covered, those looking at the event must always wear eye protection or risk permanent eye damage, including the possibility of blindness. It’s recommended for viewers to wear protective eyewear designed for eclipses, which does not include regular sunglasses. Even through clouds, eye protection should still be worn.

Only five companies manufacture glasses that pass NASA standards, including Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, Lunt Solar Systems, and TSE 17. Never look at the sun or an eclipse through binoculars or any other lens, including a camera, without first fitting the equipment with a solar filter.

In the Greenbrier County area, the eclipse will be visible starting around 1 p.m. on Monday, and last until around 4 p.m. The weather is currently predicted to be mostly sunny on the day of the eclipse, which should provide unobstructed views. Green Bank Observatory in Pocahontas County is hosting a viewing party starting at 11 a.m. on Monday, and will offer safe ways to view the event, as well as snacks and hands-on activities. The event is free to attend, but food and drinks are not included. The observatory also has protective glasses available in their gift shop for anyone interested in viewing the eclipse independently.

Everyone stay safe and enjoy this incredible natural phenomenon!

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