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Monday, August 21, 2017

Today the moon will blot out the midday sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.

The projected path of totality is 60 to 70 miles wide, running diagonally across the continent from Oregon to South Carolina, with darkness lasting only about two to three minutes in any one spot.

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Today's Random Fact:

A solar eclipse is a lineup of the Sun, the Moon, and Earth. The Moon, directly between the Sun and Earth, casts a shadow on our planet. If you're in the dark part of that shadow (the umbra), you'll see a total eclipse. If you're in the light part (the penumbra), you'll see a partial eclipse.

Eclipse totalities are different lengths. The reason the total phases of solar eclipses vary in time is because Earth is not always at the same distance from the Sun and the Moon is not always the same distance from Earth. The Earth-Sun distance varies by 3 percent and the Moon-Earth distance by 12 percent. The result is that the Moon's apparent diameter can range from 7 percent larger to 10 percent smaller than the Sun.

Yes, the Sun's a lot bigger. Our daytime star's diameter is approximately 400 times larger than that of the Moon. What a coincidence that it also lies roughly 400 times farther away. This means both disks appear to be the same size.

Bonus Fact:

Depending on your surroundings, as totality nears you may experience strange things. You'll notice a resemblance to the onset of night, though not exactly. Areas much lighter than the sky near the Sun lie all around the horizon. Shadows look different. Usually, birds (many of whom will come in to roost) will stop chirping. It is quiet. Feel. A 10-15 degree F drop in temperature is not unusual. If there are any trees in your vicinity, you may see their leaves act like pinhole cameras as hundreds of crescent Suns appear in their shadows.

Totality is safe to look at. During the time the Moon's disk covers that of the Sun, it's safe to look at the eclipse. In fact, to experience the awesomeness of the event, you must look at the Sun without a filter during totality.

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