2017 Total Solar Eclipse
WESLACO – The first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the U.S., in almost 100 years, is only a few days away. CHANNEL 5 NEWS' Chief Meteorologist Tim Smith and photojournalist Rick Ramirez will be traveling more than 1,000 miles to witness the event.
They will be heading to St. Joseph, Missouri early Saturday morning along with a group of meteorologists and enthusiasts.
Dr. John Gerling, an astronomy enthusiast and orthodontist, said the solar eclipse is kind of a quirk of geometry.
“The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun. But the sun is 400 times farther away,” he said. “The moon and the same sun occupy exactly the same disk in the sky, so the moon can just barely cover up the total disk of the sun.”
As everything lines up, the moon will cast a shadow on the Earth. A shadow that is only about 70 miles wide. So, in order for people to see the eclipse, they must be in the right place at the right time.
Solar eclipses are not rare. They happen about every 18 months, but usually nowhere close to where we are.
In the Rio Grande Valley, the moon will block about half the sun.
The moon will start to eat away at the sun at 11:46 a.m., reaching a peak of just over 50 percent at 1:14 p.m. And by 2:41 p.m., things will be back to normal.
While it has been almost 100 years since an eclipse has gone all the way across the country, we will have a closer eclipse in just seven years. In 2024, it could be seen near Del Rio all the way to the New England area.
Gerling will be part of the group that will be traveling to Missouri. He said if people want to see a total eclipse they better do it soon.
“The moon is getting about an inch further from the Earth every year. In a few million years it won’t be able to cover up the total surface of the sun. So there’ll be no more total solar eclipses as viewed from Earth! So I want to see it while I’m around, and I don’t have a million years to wait,” he said.
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