Everything You Wanted to Know About the 2017 Great American Eclipse

If you live anywhere near the expected shadow trajectory, you’ve probably heard talk about August’s upcoming solar eclipse already. Thousands of people are expected to flock to the diagonal line all the way from Oregon’s coast to South Carolina to see the sun… go away. A solar eclipse happens when Earth’s Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, obscuring its awesome glare from our puny human eyes for just a few brief moments. A “solar eclipse” refers to any event when the sun is either totally or partially obscured. But this isn’t just any old solar eclipse.

Monday, August 21, will see a total solar eclipse, which means that the Moon’s visible diameter will be larger than the sun’s. This blocks out all direct sunlight and, yes, turns day into night. This particular eclipse is also special because it will be fully visible only to the United States, and within the United States only in a slim band that spans the nation from coast to coast. And on top of that? The last time an eclipse like this happened was June 8… 1918.

Almost a century later, we’re being treated to this August’s solar eclipse. The “Great American Eclipse” of 2017 will start at 10:15 am PDT on the Oregon coast, and then creep slowly eastward through the following cities, in order: Salem, Casper, Lincoln, Kansas City, Nashville, and Charleston. A partial solar eclipse will be visible to the less-lucky rest of North America, part of South America, western Europe, and Africa.

Many states are hosting events surrounding the total solar eclipse in August, such as Oregon, whose city of Madras is sponsoring a four-day celebration called the “Solarfest.” People all over the United States are expected to converge on the thin band of total solar eclipse visibility stretching across the nation.

For an event this rare and this spectacular, when the night eats the day out of its turn, who can blame them?