Today’s the day – Time to shine!
Or, wait … No, it’s the opposite of that. It is August 21st, 2017, and today the sun will be completely obscured by the moon for an hour and thirty-three minutes, in a rare phenomenon known as a Solar Eclipse.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past week, then you’re aware and you’ve made your preparations – purchased solar eclipse glasses so you don’t scorch your retinas – and are excited for the 2 minute work break this afternoon.
If you have been under a rock, welcome back! The sun will vanish today for two minutes, but you can’t look at it.
Anyways. The total solar eclipse (of the heart, sorry, had to be done) is widely anticipated and has been hyped to the extent of a hypothetical free Beyoncé concert. The last time this happened was 1918, and the next time won’t be until 2025 (in the United States). People are stoked.
As Virginians, TechArk will have a peripheral view (still important not to look directly at the giant ball of fire in the sky) for about two minutes. As geeks, we love the scientific aspect of this whole event, but as techies, we’re curious about how the eclipse might affect technology.
Total Teclipse of the Hard Drive
No worries. You’ll be able to livestream, boomerang, snap, and tag during the solar eclipse as usual. Our recommendation, however, is to put down your phone and enjoy the view (through regulation solar eclipse viewing glasses, of course).
This one may surprise you. Because your Global Positioning System utilizes the ionosphere to send its signals, and the ionosphere will be experiencing a significant reduction in EUV ionozation (since the sun and its rays will be blocked) which lowers the overall electron content. These decreases could reduce the transference of GPS signals.
You probably won’t get lost … but maybe jot down the directions before the sun gets obscured by the moon. Also – pull over before it gets dark. The roads will be a very dangerous place to be.
Same as the GPS, these wave emissions could be disrupted by the obstructing moon over the sun. No talk radio today!
Solar panels, plants, and PV generators are out of luck today, with an expected loss of 50% of capacity across the nation. Solar power plants anticipate losing 12,000 megawatts of power … in two minutes! It’s an unprecedented drop, but one for which they’ve been preparing for quite a while. California, Utah, and North Carolina are states that utilize a high volume of solar power, and expect to see a big dip today.
Okay, so nature is not technology … but it’s cool and it will be affected, too! While animals know better than to look at the sun in general (it’s just humans that need reminding) not all of nature is impervious to the eclipse. Some areas in the Path of Totality may experience a sharp temperature decrease – as much as ten degrees difference! That’s what happens when the sun goes away.
The weather could actually throw a huge wrench into the view for many. Some fog, too many clouds, or – god forbid – a thunderstorm would ruin the eclipse experience for countless Americans today. Fingers crossed that it stays sunny – until it’s dark.