The total solar eclipse spanning the entire United States will happen in just a few hours. Starting just after 10 a.m. local time in Oregon, visual of the eclipse will pass through the U.S. in a southeastern direction. It will end shortly before 3 p.m. today in South Carolina. The phenomenon will last only a couple of minutes, but that hasn't stopped people from across the U.S. from shelling out thousands of dollars for good seats.
[Image Source: NASA]
Cities along the path are marketing the minutes-long event for all it's worth. The small Kentucky town of Hopkinsville even set up a "Solar Eclipse Experience," complete with a Pink Floyd tribute band, lawn section rentals, and a lecture series on the science behind a solar eclipse. (The town even held an Eclipse Con.) Hopkinsville sits at the 98 - 99 percent visibility mark for the solar eclipse.
This marks the first total solar eclipse across the entire continental U.S. since 1918. So, if you're not from the U.S. and you're tired of eclipse warnings clogging your Twitter feed, we're sorry. Even today's Google Doodle is an animation of two aliens tossing the moon between the earth and the sun.
What is a Solar Eclipse?
Simply put, it's when the moon blocks the sun's rays to Earth. A shadow hits Earth and moves over it. That shadow creates a totality -- the line of travel in which the moon completely blocks the sun. That totality leads to some interesting phenomenon, as many animals mistake it for an early night. Birds will stop chirping, farm animals will tuck in for bed, etc.
[Image Source: Luc Viatour/Wikipedia]
This should go without saying, but you should never look directly at the sun. However, with the sun blocked for a brief time, people are tempted to stare at the star. By now, thousands (if not millions) of Americans have found their reliable solar eclipse glasses. If you haven't, you can check several primer guides on how to safely view a solar eclipse without reliable glasses.
Where Can I Watch It?
If you live in the continental U.S., feel free to step outside at your area's respective time. You'll see the eclipse will pass over your location. If you don't want to see the eclipse in person/work indoors/ aren't from the United States, groups will live stream the event. NASA offers the most popular livestream. NASA says of its coverage, "Viewers around the world will be provided a wealth of images captured before, during, and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station – each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event."
NASA's coverage will begin at 12 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. There will be a preview show from Charleston, South Carolina before a show at 1 p.m. that covers the event cross-country.
If you'd like something else more 'trendy' sounding, Twitter has an option. The social media giant is partnering with the Weather Channel to bring 10 different views of the event as it travels across the country. You can find the link to that livestream and more information here.