International desk – Skygazers across United States are getting prepared for the spectacular sight of a solar eclipse by Monday noontime, media reports say.
The Moon is set to pass in front of the Sun, casting a deep shadow that will sweep over the nation from Oregon in the west to South Carolina in the east, according to BBC report.
The US broadcaster CNN said there is no way you can stop today’s total solar eclipse from happening.
“It is celestial, and we have no control over it. The only way to stop it would be to extinguish the sun or knock the moon or Earth out of orbit,” it said.
Over the past few millennia, people who knew nothing about eclipses couldn’t explain the natural phenomena.
Many cultures thought it was a sign from their sun god; it is even known to have ended full-flung battles.
“Today, we understand how it works and how it looks. People chase eclipses like storm chasers chase weather,” added the broadcaster as the nation was seemingly total prepared for the spectacular event.
It suggested not to try to keep up with the eclipse.
“You can’t catch it unless you’re in a jet traveling beyond the speed of sound — which NASA plans on doing.
Science geeks have been counting down to the millisecond for today’s eclipse. Eighties music lovers have been humming “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for weeks.
Scientists are making last-minute preparations for experiments they have been planning for years, even decades.
It is the first such event since 1918 where the path of darkness crosses both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
Indeed, it is the first total solar eclipse to make landfall exclusively in the US since independence in 1776.
People lucky enough to be directly in the path of deepest shadow (“totality”) – and blessed with a clear sky – will witness our star’s light blocked out for up to two minutes and 40 seconds.
Those who stand off to the side will experience a partial eclipse, which on this occasion will encompass all of North America and northern parts of South America, said BBC.
There are even parts of western Europe, including the UK and Ireland, that will snatch a sight of the Moon’s disc taking a bite out of the Sun just as it sets.
It will certainly challenge the numbers that saw the 2009 eclipse that swept across India and China.
The US, of course, has excellent transport connections, and this will help many people get into a good position.
As it is, more than 12 million people live in the 115km-wide (70 miles) path of totality. Nearly four times that many live within a two-hour’s drive, and over 200 million live within a day’s drive
State and local authorities have been preparing for Monday as if they were about to confront the fallout from some natural disaster.
“The eclipse path in the most part avoids the big cities,” said Angela Specks from the American Astronomical Society’s eclipse taskforce.
“It skims part of Kansas City and St Louis and then Nashville. But there aren’t any really big cities on the path, and so you’ve got lot and lots of small towns, some of which don’t have hotels. And they’re going to be inundated with people,” she said.
Carbondale in Illinois has billed itself as the “Eclipse Crossroads of America” because it is in the path of darkness both on Monday and when the next US eclipse occurs in 2024.
Given this status, city authorities anticipate a huge influx of visitors. Its regular population numbers 26,000 people, but for Monday more than 60,000 extra car parking spaces have been organised.
And it is not just urban settlements that will be stretched; the National Park Service has been bringing lorry loads of portable toilets on to its lands.
Many skywatchers will be waiting until as late as possible before deciding where to go, based on up-to-date weather forecasts. Many of those who planned ahead will have consulted historical weather data.
This information suggests the highest probability of clear skies will be in the northwest. Madras in Oregon is a favourite.
The time of year and its position leeward of the Cascade Mountains means it would expect a more than 70 per cent chance of an unobstructed view of the eclipse.
In contrast, the further east along the path of totality, the higher the historical probability of cloud, reported BBC.