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How Many Solar Eclipses Will You Be Able to See In Your Lifetime?

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Total solar eclipses, when our view of the Sun is completely blocked out by the Moon, are highly anticipated events. The one appearing over much of the U.S. on August 21 may end up becoming the most-viewed celestial event in history. If you miss this summer's, though, will you ever see another? Denise Lu at The Washington Post can tell you just how many other chances you'll get.

Just put your birth year into the Post's eclipse calculator, and it will tell you how many total solar eclipses have yet to occur worldwide before you reach 100 (assuming that you live to be exactly 100). In the graphic below, the orange line is the path of this summer's total solar eclipse. The purple lines represent future eclipses. The darker the line, the sooner it will occur.

Lines representing solar eclipse paths criss-cross the globe.

Denise Lu / The Washington Post

Though solar eclipses are relatively common worldwide, that doesn't mean they're easy to view. A total solar eclipse hasn't been visible in the contiguous United States since 1979, and the next time a total solar eclipse will pass over the entire country will be in 2045. Personally, the eclipse calculator tells me I have 50 left in my lifetime, but I'll need to move to Asia to see most of them, and unless I get on a boat and chase eclipse trajectories across the ocean, I'm bound to miss a few.

Throughout history, eclipses have proved to be powerful phenomena, and not just because looking at them can damage your eyes. In 585 BCE, a solar eclipse that occurred in the middle of a Greek battle prompted the end of a six-year war. Soldiers saw the sudden darkness in the middle of the day as a sign that they should cease their fighting.

Find out how many eclipses you have left on The Washington Post.

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Weather Watch
Will the Solar Eclipse Have an Impact on the Weather?

The United States will have a front-row seat to one of the most spectacular solar eclipses to sweep across the country in our lifetimes. Millions of lucky observers from coast to coast will have the chance to watch the Moon scoot in front of the Sun on the afternoon of August 21, 2017, briefly plunging cities like Salem, Oregon, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Columbia, South Carolina, into night-like darkness during the day. Read our field guide to the solar eclipse for tips on how to make the most of this spectacular event.

While a solar eclipse can be amazing to behold, the phenomenon has little impact on Earth. It may, however, have a small but noticeable effect on weather in the areas that experience a total eclipse.

The entire country will be able to see the Moon cover the Sun in some form, but the best viewing areas will be along a northwest-to-southeast path across the middle of the country. According to NASA, a location needs at least 90 percent coverage to notice any darkening at all, and even 99 percent coverage of the Sun only provides the same level of darkness you'd see at twilight. Areas totally covered by the Moon's relatively narrow shadow will experience conditions akin to dusk, prompting street lights to turn on and even tricking birds and bugs into thinking that the day is drawing to an end. Studies have shown that the total eclipse could also have an effect on temperatures and even winds.

Researchers who studied an eclipse across Europe in 1999 found that the event lowered air temperatures by as much as 5°F across the path of totality. This brief dip in air temperatures also affected local wind speed and direction—not by much, but it was enough for both people and instruments to take notice of the so-called "eclipse wind." The effect on the atmosphere in Europe wasn't a fluke. A weather station in Zambia recorded a temperature drop of nearly 15°F during a solar eclipse in June 2001, and there are reports through history of observers noticing a distinct cooling effect in the midst of a lunar shadow.

The duration of the eclipse and the amount of moisture in the air will determine how much the Moon's shadow will lower temperatures. Moist air has a higher heat capacity than drier air, so when it's muggy outside it takes longer for the air to warm up and cool down. This is why daily temperatures fluctuate less in Miami, Florida, than they do in Phoenix, Arizona. Communities that lie among the drier, cooler Rocky Mountains are more likely to witness a noteworthy dip in temperatures compared to states like Tennessee or South Carolina, which are typically locked in the humid doldrums of summer at the end of August.

If you're lucky enough to witness this spectacular astronomical phenomenon, make sure you bring your eclipse glasses—and a thermometer.

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Space
Google Street View Now Lets You Explore the International Space Station

Google Street View covers some amazing locations (Antarctica, the Grand Canyon, and Stonehenge, to name a few), but it’s taken until now for the tool to venture into the final frontier. As TechCrunch reports, you can now use Street View to explore the inside of the International Space Station.

The scenes, photographed by astronauts living on the ISS, include all 15 modules of the massive satellite. Viewers will be treated to true 360-degree views of the rooms and equipment onboard. Through the windows, you can see Earth from an astronaut's perspective and a SpaceX Dragon craft delivering supplies to the crew.

Because the imagery was captured in zero gravity, it’s easy to lose sense of your bearings. Get a taste of what ISS residents experience on a daily basis here.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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