What is a total solar eclipse?
Essentially, it's when the moon moves right in front of the sun, covering it completely for a very short time. It darkens the whole sky, lets you look right at the sun (only when it's completely covered, though - you must use special solar viewing glasses (also known as "eclipse glasses") whenever the sun isn't completely eclipsed), and shows you the beautiful corona that surrounds the sun. Stars come out, the horizon glows with a 360-degree sunset, the temperature drops, and day turns into night. It's one of the most beautiful things you can ever see on earth.
Aren’t these pretty common?
Well, one happens about every year or every other year, somewhere on earth. However, you have to be situated in a very narrow strip of land (called the 'path of totality') if you want to see the total phase of the eclipse. Otherwise, all you see (with your eclipse glasses, of course!) is a pretty boring partial eclipse. And that strip of land is generally VERY far off the beaten path - like Mongolia, or the Sahara desert, or the ocean somewhere. Very few people (as a percentage of the overall population) have ever seen a total solar eclipse. The last time a total solar ecipse crossed the width of the United States was 1918.
When will it happen?
Monday, August 21, 2017. For the Detroit area, the eclipse will start around 1:03pm and end around 3:47pm.
What is Cranbrook Institute of Science doing?
Though we won't be in the path of totality, we will still play host to a day's worth of events. In the lead up to August 21, all of our Michigan Sky Tonight public planetarium programs will feature a segment on the eclipse. On the day of the event, we'll do specific eclipse programs beginning at 11am. We will also stream views from locations in the path of totality as well as make available our observatory for safe viewing. All activities, except for planetarium programs, are free with museum admission.
Sky & Telescope: “2017 Total Solar Eclipse: A Guide to Totality on August 21, 2017”
Time and Date has eclipse information with animation for Detroit
Great American Eclipse has a map showing the best locations across the United States to view the eclipse
NASA has detailed maps along the path of totality