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Lunar Eclipse Will Arrive Before Century's First Total Solar Eclipse

A look at what occurs during a solar eclipse, which will be occurring Monday, Aug. 21.
A look at what occurs during a solar eclipse, which will be occurring Monday, Aug. 21. Photo Credit: NASA
A look at what occurs during a lunar eclipse, which will be occurring Monday, Aug. 7.
A look at what occurs during a lunar eclipse, which will be occurring Monday, Aug. 7. Photo Credit: NASA

Call it a warm-up act — and the timing is hardly coincidental. Two weeks before the first total solar eclipse of the 21st century arrives on Aug. 21, there will be a partial lunar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 7.

Lunar eclipses are the opposite of solar eclipses. In a lunar eclipse, the Earth casts its shadow on the moon.

Solar and lunar eclipses occur in pairs, with one preceding the other usually by two weeks — which is exactly the time frame in this month's situation.

Monday's partial eclipse will last about two hours, and will be at its darkest around 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, according to NASA. However, Connecticut and all of North America will be out of luck for viewing the event. Visit the site for a map of visibility around the world.

Assuming it is not cloudy on Monday, Aug. 21, everyone in the continental United States, in fact, everyone in North America -- plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe -- will see at least a partial solar eclipse. The thin path of total solar eclipse will pass through portions of 14 states, not including Connecticut.

For an animation of what you may see from your Fairfield County location on Aug. 21 (again assuming there is no cloud cover), click here.

During the total solar eclipse, the sun will disappear behind the moon, turning daylight into twilight, and leading to a quick plunge in temperature before streamers of light streaking across the sky around the moon's silhouette.

It will mark the first time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the mainland United States since 1979.

The Aug. 21 eclipse will also be the first to sweep across the entire country since 1918.

Given all that, excitement is building. You can check out a website devoted just to the eclipse -- eclipse2017org -- by clicking here.

After Aug. 21, the next total solar eclipse is due for April 2024.

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