You won’t have to wait until August to see what the upcoming solar eclipse will look like in the Richmond sky.
A website called Eclipse Megamovie can simulate the timing and appearance of the moon sliding in front of the sun for any point in the continental U.S. on Aug. 21.
No, it won’t turn totally dark here in Richmond, but it will be a rare astronomical event for us. The brightness of the sky will also dim a bit when the sun is reduced to a crescent shape that afternoon.
You can see the shape of the sun in the simulator without harming your eyes, but don’t stare at the eclipse in real life without special eyewear or another safe viewing technique. You’ll find much more about that on NASA’s eclipse website.
If you type in “Charleston, S.C.” on the Eclipse Megamovie site, however, you’ll see the brief night-during-day effect of totality.
The path of totality will be in a relatively narrow stripe from Oregon to Missouri to South Carolina. Kansas City, Mo., and Nashville, Tenn., are the largest cities that will become totally dark.
Though it is the first total eclipse to occur in the continental U.S. since 1979, most places — including all of Virginia — will experience this one as a partial eclipse.
The interactive site is a partnership between teams at Google and several universities and astronomical observatories. Those involved hope to collect images of the sun’s shimmering atmosphere from citizen scientists across the country.
Clouds could interfere with the visibility of the eclipse in some parts of the country. NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information analyzed how often clouds are present on August afternoons along the path of the eclipse.
Based on weather history, Wyoming might be the best spot to pick if you were planning a cloud-free viewing. On the other hand, coastal Oregon and parts of South Carolina have a nearly 50-50 chance of dealing with clouds.
For Richmond, the typical sky condition for that time of year is scattered cumulus clouds.
It’s impossible to know yet whether we could end up with perfectly clear skies under high pressure, or overcast weather from a cold front or tropical storm.