Bailey’s Beads and Diamond Rings and Coronas, Oh My!
On August 21st of this year, a truly remarkable event is going to occur…and our little corner of the state is *right* in the middle of the action! As luck would have it, a sliver of Northeast Georgia is going to be a prime viewing area for The Great American Eclipse of 2017.
See the dark band stretching across the U.S.? That’s the path the eclipse will take. Those lucky – or resourceful and determined – enough to be in the band are going to get a show!
Now zoom in a little closer…
See how fortunate we are?? Most of us won’t need to leave our backyards to see “Totality.”
Whether you live in our neck of the woods or are coming our way to visit a spell while you partake in this theater of the heavens, what can you expect to experience on this momentous occasion? I’ll provide a little primer below.
First Contact – The moon first touches the edge of the sun. You must wear eye protection during this phase. The sun becomes a shrinking sliver and the atmosphere sharpens and clarifies.
Second Contact or Beginning of Totality – Those few minutes when the moon totally eclipses the sun. The sky will darken even more, stars and planets will pop out of nowhere, roosters and insects may liven as if nighttime has arrived early. As the last bit of the sun’s sliver shrinks, its corona will become visible. The last bit of the sun’s light will shine through the moon’s jagged topography, creating a bead effect on its edge. These are called Baily’s Beads. Soon these will fade as the very last of them brightens into one huge bead. This along with the sun’s corona glowing all around the moon gives the famous diamond ring effect.
Totality – As the diamond ring effect fades, the sun’s corona takes center stage. It is possible to see tongues of red fire protruding from the sun. These are always there, but they cannot be seen by our eyes except during this short stage of a total eclipse. At this stage of totality – and only then!! – your safety eyewear can be removed. It will probably be too dark at that point to see through them anyway! It is time to enjoy the main show.
Third Contact or End of Totality – All too soon, however, the bright bead of sunlight will return (the diamond is now on the opposite side of the ring) and it is immediately time to put your eyewear back on. The sky will brighten, shadows will return, insects will simmer down.
Fourth Contact – The same as First Contact, but in reverse. Eyewear is very important if you are still watching the moon slide away from the sun. You may feel a little let down at this point, as Totality was so short, but know that you are one of the few people on the planet to have witnessed a total eclipse with your very own eyes!
This is indeed an event not to be missed, and right here in a corner of our beloved Georgia. Will you be watching? If so, will you do it from home or will you join other enthusiasts and enjoy the spectacle amongst an excited crowd? Let us know your plans!