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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The countdown clock is ticking on a rather rare celestial event.

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire nation August 21st.

A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours.

The path of totality, where the moon will completely cover the sun, will be a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from West to East.

The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT.

Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT. From there the lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 EDT. Its longest duration will be near Carbondale, Illinois, where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and 40 seconds.

Observers outside the path of totality will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon only covers part of the sun’s disk.

The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979.

The next total solar eclipse viewable in North America will be on April 8th, 2024, it will be visible from Texas to Maine.

As a rule, you never want to look directly at the sun because it can severely hurt your eyes. However, there are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun including direct viewing – which requires some type of filtering device and indirect viewing where you project an image of the sun onto a screen. Both methods should produce clear images of the partial phase of an eclipse. Click here for eclipse viewing techniques and safety.


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