Are you ready for the “Great American Solar Eclipse?”

On August 21, the moon will sweep across the sky covering the face of the sun, completely blocking the sun’s light for a short time.

Darkness will fall across the skies of the United States, temperatures will drop and stars will be visible during the daytime.

Gulf Power employees James Craven and Rick DeleHaya are ready for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse with their ISO 12312-2 standard viewing glasses. Thanks to a balanced energy mix –wind and solar and 24/7 energy sources like natural gas and low-cost, cleaner-than-ever coal –– Gulf Power has adequate generating fuel to keep customer’s lights on during the eclipse.

The 90-minute eclipse will turn day into total darkness across a 70-mile wide strip that will extend from east to west, from Oregon to South Carolina. According to NASA, the moon’s shadow will travel at more than 1,242 miles per hour, meaning the totality will only last 2-5 minutes at any one location.

In what is a very rare event, once the moon’s shadow leaves the United States, it will travel over the Atlantic Ocean and disappear before it reaches Africa.

While scientists and millions of viewers hope to get a glimpse of the full eclipse, Gulf Power customers can enjoy viewing a partial eclipse without worrying about any disruption in service caused by the eclipse.

“Even though our solar arrays are online, there will be no impact in service to customers from the solar eclipse because of our balanced energy mix that includes renewables like wind and solar, but also 24/7 energy sources like natural gas and low-cost, cleaner-than-ever coal,” said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson.

There will be minimum impact, according to DelaHaya, from the loss of solar generation at the new Gulf Coast Solar Center thanks to the adequate reserves of other generation fuels on hand to handle the temporary darkness.

“Gulf Power customers will not experience any energy problems because of the eclipse,” added DelaHaya “We will have plenty of 24/7 clean, low-cost reliable energy on hand to handle the demands of our customers.”

The Gulf Coast Solar Center is part of Gulf Power’s robust energy mix, and spans 940 acres across three Navy and Air Force sites in Northwest Florida, generating 120 megawatts of electricity from 1.5 million photovoltaic solar panels, enough energy to power nearly 18,000 homes each year across Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties.

“With the energy needs of our customers covered, we encourage everyone to take advantage of this rare opportunity to witness the first solar eclipse to travel coast-to-coast in almost 100 years,” added DelaHaya. “This is a rare event that won’t happen again until 2045.”

In the Gulf Power service footprint, the partial eclipse begins around noon and reaches maximum coverage of 82 percent between 1:37 p.m. in Pensacola and 1:39 p.m. in Panama City. It ends at 3:03 p.m. in Pensacola and 3:05 p.m. in Panama City.

If you want to watch this spectacular celestial event, NASA offers tips on the only safe way to view the solar eclipse without damaging your eyes. Keep in mind, ordinary dark sunglasses do not provide enough protection against the UV rays.

  • Do not look directly at the sun.
  • Solar filters, or eclipse glasses, provide the only safe way to look directly at a partial or total eclipse. Make sure they meet the ISO 12312-2 standard. Eclipse glasses or handheld viewers must meet an international standard known as “ISO 12312-2.” Only five reputable companies make glasses or viewers matching that standard: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.
  • Make sure the solar viewer or glasses include the manufacturer’s name and address.
  • Do not use solar glasses that are older than three years or have scratched lenses
  • Do not use homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses.
  • Do not look at an eclipse through an unfiltered camera viewfinder, telescope, binoculars or other optical device even with a solar filter. Those items magnify sunrays and can quickly damage the retina.
  • Always supervise children who use solar filters.