Expert says solar eclipses are not as rare as they're hyped up to be

SPOKANE, Wash.—People around North America are gearing up for the first total solar eclipse visible to the United States since the 1979.

Reports said that even when the last eclipse occurred, not many people saw it because it mainly crossed through just five states in the Northwest.

Washington State University professor, Guy Worthey said that while the hype around the eclipse is understandable because a lot of people in the U.S. have never seen one, eclipses aren't actually that rare.

Worthey said there’s a solar eclipse about once a year, just somewhere else in the world.

“Eclipses happen every few years, somewhere on earth. What’s more rare is it’s coming across a huge majority of the U.S.” said Worthey.

Experts said the phenomenon of a total solar eclipse happens frequently, but lunar eclipses and meteor showers are even more reliable.

“Meteor showers are pretty reliable. They happen at the same time, give or take a week every year. The thing is just how spectacular the meteor shower is if people notice it,” said Worthey.

A notable meteor shower to mention is the Perseid meteor shower. It will make its way over Washington state August 12. Experts said this could be one of the most spectacular showings of the event.

Worthey said in addition to meteor showers' predictability, lunar eclipses are common. He said In lunar eclipses are four times more common than solar eclipses. Worthey explained that is because the Earth is four times the size of the moon, making it easier to eclipse.

A notable fact about eclipses of the moon is that blood moons are actually a type of lunar eclipse. Instead of the moon being completely blocked out by the earth’s shadow, it also reflects sunlight. The sunlight is filtered and refracted by the earth’s atmosphere gives it a reddish color.

According to Worthey, comets are also special occurrences. He said while some comets are regular, and people are familiar with them. He said that doesn’t mean we know about all of them.

“Comets are special because half of them show up with no warning. Their tails can be millions of miles long and we never know when they’ll orbit back into the atmosphere,” said Worthey.

Reports said the total solar eclipse could be the most viewed natural phenomena’s in U.S. history.  

© 2017 KREM-TV


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