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Local residents will be treated to a historic sight next week as they will watch the sun disappear...for a few minutes. That’s because Nebraska will be one of the best places to watch.
On Monday, Aug, 21, a total solar eclipse will be viewable across Nebraska for the first time in more than 60 years. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible in Nebraska occurred in 1954.
According to Billy Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Platte and a 1994 graduate of Neligh-Oakdale, the eclipse will start in the panhandle and move across the state.
“The eclipse will start in Nebraska in the panhandle at about 12:50 in the afternoon, and then it will move across the state,” Taylor said.
The path of the eclipse makes a diagonal across the state of Nebraska, running through multiple towns including Alliance, Grand Island and Bellevue. Taylor said the duration of its time across Nebraska will be about 20 minutes.
“It should be around Grand Island at around 1 p.m. or so, and then by 1:10 it will be down into Missouri,” he said.
The path of totality, the area across the state where the total eclipse will be visible, will be the only place where the complete and total eclipse will be viewable. However, the area has some leeway. Taylor said that the path of totality has a wide area in which it can be viewed.
“There are about 50 miles give or take above and below the path of totality to view the darkest part of the eclipse,” he said.
Taylor said although it won’t completely block out the sun, residents of Antelope County will see a massive part of the sun blocked out during the eclipse.
“In Antelope County, 90 percent of the sun will be obscured by the moon,” he said.
Spectators will flock from all over the world to Nebraska communities to view the eclipse, and for a good reason. This eclipse is the first one that is viewable from the mainland of the United States since 1979. On top of that, it is the first eclipse that stretches across the entire US since 1918.
The next solar eclipse viewable in the United States will take place in April of 2024. Although that stretches from Mexico to upstate New York, a partial solar eclipse will be seen from Nebraska.
Taylor said the rule of “never looking directly at the sun” still applies in this scenario, but in this case, it comes without proper protection. Taylor said there are multiple ways to shield ones eyes.
“They have viewing glasses that can be bought online. Welding goggles also work. The big thing is: Don’t look at the sun unless you have the proper protection,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, when the total eclipse is in full effect, it can be viewed without glasses.
“If you are in the path of totality, you can look at the eclipse without protection when the moon is completely blocking the sun,” he said.
However, if the rays are visible around it, damage can be caused, so it is important to have protection on at all times outside of the total eclipse. Taylor said that it is also important to not use anything that will magnify the sun as it still can cause damage.
“Don’t try to use binoculars or telescopes to try and get a better view, as that will still burn your retinas,” he warned.
The National Weather Service, although not hosting viewing parties or launching solar balloons into the sky, will play an important part during the eclipse events. Taylor says they will be constantly watching weather patterns in the skies over the spectators.
“We are providing coverage for those communities in the path of the totality. With the extreme numbers of people who will be in the area, we will be watching for any bad weather that visitors need to be notified about,” he said.
Weather will play a vital part in whether the eclipse will be visible or not. However, Taylor said residents should feel assured that the day will be ideal conditions to view the eclipse.
“On August 21, there is about a 70-75 percent chance that it will be sunny. It is several days away, so it can’t forecast it exactly, but the chances of it being completely cloudy are less than 10 percent,” Taylor forecast.