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US to Experience Its First Total Solar Eclipse in 99 Years

Mar 20, 2017 08:44 AM EDT
Solar Eclipse
Most of continental U.S. to experience a total solar eclipse on Aug 21, 2017.
(Photo : Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

A few months from now, the sun will disappear for a brief period of time, making the sky dark in the middle of the day and dropping the temperatures several degrees colder.

That event, dubbed as the "Great American Eclipse," will occur on Aug. 21, 2017. The Great American Eclipse is a total solar eclipse that can be viewed by millions of people across the U.S. During a solar eclipse, the moon crosses between the Earth and Sun, blocking the Sun's light. Due to this, daytime will become deep twilight with the Sun's corona shimmering in the darkened sky.

As oppose to a normal solar eclipse, the Great American Eclipse will have a "path of totality" that can be observed from the Pacific to the Atlantic. This means that every single spot in the continental U.S. can view the eclipse up to 60 percent. The last Great American Eclipse occurred about 99 years ago, making the event more appealing to the eyes of spectators. The last total solar eclipse to sweep the continental U.S. occurred on June 8, 1918.

The path of totality extends from Oregon to South Carolina, passing Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. According to The Gazette, there are about 12 million people living along the path of totality. Angela Speck, co-chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's task force on the 2017 eclipse, estimates that an additional 12 million people will visit any of the states in the path of totality, making the number of expected spectators to be 24 million people.

The totality is expected to lasts for about two minutes and 41 seconds max. Places such as Madras in Oregon, Snake River Valley in Idaho, Casper in Wyoming, Sand Hills of Western Nebraska, St. Joseph in Missouri, Carbondale in Illinois, Hopkinsville in Kentucky and Columbia in South Carolina are considered to be the best spot to view the solar eclipse. These places will also have a totality that will last for more than two minutes.

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