To­tal so­lar eclipse on Aug. 21 will be the talk of many towns across the U.S.

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - BY BLAINE P. FRIEDLANDER JR. sky­watch­post@gmail.com.

It’s been 38 years since a to­tal so­lar eclipse touched any of the con­tigu­ous 48 states and 26 years since so­lar to­tal­ity moved through Hawaii. In three weeks, the moon cuts in front of the sun, and there will be a to­tal so­lar eclipse, with an ap­prox­i­mately 70-mile-wide, tem­po­rary band of shadow mak­ing its way from Ore­gon to Mis­souri to South Carolina on Aug. 21. Eas­ily, it will be the talk of many towns.

For Wash­ing­ton, this event will be a par­tial eclipse, with 81 per­cent of the sun ob­scured, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Naval Ob­ser­va­tory. The eclipse starts at 1:17 p.m. Eastern, and the mid­dle of the eclipse oc­curs at 2:42 p.m. It all ends at 4:01 p.m. For Bal­ti­more, the eclipse starts a minute later than in Wash­ing­ton.

Many places will be in the path of the eclipse shadow. In Charleston, S.C., a city within the so­lar to­tal­ity band, the eclipse starts at 1:16 p.m. To­tal­ity be­gins at 2:46 p.m. and ends just shy of 2:48 p.m. The par­tial eclipse there ends at 4:09 p.m.

Mu­sic City — Nashville — will con­verge har­mon­i­cally to watch as the eclipse starts at 11:58 a.m. Cen­tral, the lo­cal time. To­tal­ity lasts al­most two min­utes, from 1:27 p.m. to 1:29 p.m., and it all ends at 2:54 p.m.

Web re­sources for eclipse in­for­ma­tion are abun­dant. Ob­tain de­tails and find maps at greatamer­i­caneclipse.com and NASA’s eclipse2017.nasa.gov. For any town or city in the United States, the Naval Ob­ser­va­tory pro­vides lo­cal eclipse cir­cum­stances at goo.gl/ekV­ciJ.

Mind your eyes. Do not look at the sun if it is not 100 per­cent cov­ered. Do not look at it through binoc­u­lars or tele­scopes with­out proper fil­ters, as you could go blind in­stantly. Pro­tect your eyes: eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety. Eclipse events for Aug. 21

See the eclipse safely through so­lar-fil­tered tele­scopes free at the Phoebe Water­man Haas Pub­lic Ob­ser­va­tory, out­side near the Na­tional Air and Space Mu­seum on the Mall and at the mu­seum’s Steven F. Ud­var-Hazy Cen­ter, Chan­tilly, Va. (Park­ing at the Ud­var-Hazy Cen­ter is $15.) 1-4 p.m. airandspace.si.edu. (Other view­ing lo­ca­tions will be the Na­tional Ar­chives, the Na­tional Zoo and other lo­ca­tions near the Mall.)

The Smith­so­nian’s Air and Space Mu­seum presents the to­tal so­lar eclipse, live from the path of to­tal­ity on­line at s.si.edu/ 2v3X10D, 1:30-2:30 p.m. It is hosted by the STEM in 30 team.

Slooh.com — an as­tro­nom­i­cal event broad­caster — will we­b­cast the Transcon­ti­nen­tal Eclipse start­ing at noon Eastern.

See the eclipse live stream at CNN.com/eclipse, with a 360de­gree video in high res­o­lu­tion and vir­tual real­ity. This is pre­sented in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Volvo Car USA.

The San Fran­cisco-based Ex­plorato­rium of­fers a free eclipse app for iPhone, iPad and An­droid. Check out the Web page at bit.ly/2v3PteE. It of­fers a live stream and ex­cel­lent de­tail.

Au­gust sky

The gi­ant gaseous Jupiter spends Au­gust in the west south western sky af­ter sun­set, as it is quite vis­i­ble at -1.8 mag­ni­tude, very bright. For sev­eral months, the star Spica has been the big planet’s con­stant cos­mic com­pan­ion. Days af­ter the so­lar eclipse, the slim cres­cent of a very young moon scoots by Jupiter on the evenings of Aug. 24 and 25.

Saturn (zero mag­ni­tude, bright) stands high in the south af­ter sun­set now. Catch the wax­ing moon glide by the ringed planet on the evening of Aug. 2.

Mars con­tin­ues to hang out close to the sun, so we can’t find our red neigh­bor. It re­turns to the morn­ing sky in Septem­ber.

Venus reigns over the morn­ing heav­ens in late sum­mer. This neg­a­tive fourth mag­ni­tude (ex­cep­tion­ally bright) planet beams bril­liantly be­fore sun­rise in the east-north­east. The skinny, el­derly wan­ing moon slings past Venus on the morn­ings of Aug. 18 and 19.

The moon dips into Earth’s dark shadow Aug. 7 for a par­tial lu­nar eclipse vis­i­ble in Asia, Africa and Aus­tralia.

The Per­seid me­teor shower — over the week­end of Aug. 11-13 — will com­pete with a bright, wan­ing gib­bous moon, just days past full. The moon is likely to wash out all but the bright­est shoot­ing stars. The of­fi­cial peak is pre­dicted for Sept. 12, ac­cord­ing to the Royal As­tro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety of Canada. If you scan the night skies pa­tiently, you might see per­haps a few me­te­ors. Down to Earth events:

Aug. 5 — “So­lar Eclipse 2017: What to Ex­pect Here in Mary­land,” a talk by astronomer El­iz­a­beth Warner, at the Univer­sity of Mary­land Ob­ser­va­tory, Col­lege Park. En­joy the night sky through tele­scopes af­ter­ward, weather per­mit­ting. 9 p.m. as­tro.umd.edu/open­house

Aug. 7 — Get a sneak pre­view of Au­gust’s ex­cit­ing sky at the “Stars Tonight” pre­sen­ta­tion at the David M. Brown Plan­e­tar­ium, 1426 N. Quincy St., Ar­ling­ton, ad­ja­cent to Wash­ing­ton-Lee High School. 7:30 p.m. $3. friend­soft­he­p­lan­e­tar­ium.org

Aug. 12 — “Ex­plor­ing the Sky,” hosted by the Na­tional Park Ser­vice and the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Astronomers, at Rock Creek Park, near the Na­ture Cen­ter, in the field south of Mil­i­tary and Glover roads NW. 8:30 p.m. cap­i­ta­las­tronomers.org

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