Today’s the big day.  The solar eclipse happens in a few hours.  That orange glow on the horizon?  That’s a 360-degree sunset.  In the States the eclipse can be viewed beginning in Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. Pacific time, and end in Charleston, South Carolina, at 4:09 p.m. Eastern time.  For those in the path of the total solar eclipse, it will last no more than two minutes and 40 seconds.  Parts of 14 states will get the best views: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  The U.S. will have to wait another seven years for the next total solar eclipse to fall within its borders, on April 8, 2024, but that eclipse vantage point will only stretch from Texas through the Northeast.  The last total solar eclipse viewed from the contiguous United States?  February 26, 1979.  After today’s event, the next annular solar eclipse that can be seen in the continental United States will be on October 14, 2023, which will be visible from Northern California to Florida.  Between 2 and 7 million people are expected to travel to visit the path of totality from border to border today, so expect unusual volumes of traffic.  An estimated 12.2 million Americans already live within the path.

Because of the trajectory of path of totality of this solar eclipse over so many heavily populated cities, this will likely be the most viewed eclipse in the planet’s history.  Before, during, and after the event, eleven spacecraft will be filming the eclipse from different vantage points, plus three NASA aircraft, 50 high-altitude balloons, and the crew of the International Space Station will have unique vantage points (particularly useful for those where uncooperative weather prevents optimal viewing from the ground).  How often will a total eclipse be seen from a specific point on the Earth’s surface?  According to space.com, only once in every 375 years.  A rare event, indeed.  When will the eclipse be overhead for you?  Enter your zip code here to find out.

If you’re asking “what eclipse?” then you will not likely have time to acquire the required protective glasses in time for the event, although several locations still had glasses available this weekend.  Check your local grocery stores and libraries and they may be able to help, but start early Monday.  Every eye professional, scientist, and medical professional has advised of the serious risk of partial or total blindness Monday if you look at the Sun without the specific recommended eyewear, both before and after the totality of the eclipse–those seconds that the Moon is directly between the Earth and the Sun from your location when the Sun is completely blocked.  Review this material at planetary.org for detailed information.  Scan this checklist into your phone or print it out for a last-minute reminder–the time will fly by so don’t wait until it’s too late to get the information you need:

You can also learn some fast knowledge from NASA at these links, and you should check it out now especially if your kid’s school cancelled and you don’t want him/her blinded by the time you get home:

Alternate NASA live streams:
Facebook Live — https://www.facebook.com/NASA/videos/10155497958441772/
Twitter/Periscope — https://www.pscp.tv/nasa
Twitch TV — https://twitch.tv/nasa
Ustream — http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv
YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwMDvPCGeE0

Eclipse images raw feed (no commentary):
NASA TV Eclipse images channel
NASA TV on UStream

More information follows:

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