A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. The moon appears to completely cover the disk of the sun. By blocking the sun's light, the moon casts a shadow that turns day into an eerie twilight here on Earth. Eclipses occur because of the special coincidence of the moon and the sun being the same size to our eyes. The sun is 400 times wider than the moon, but it is also 400 times farther away, so they appear to be the same size in the sky.
Why is this called the "Great American Eclipse?"
This is the first total solar eclipse that's only visible in the U.S. and no other country. It will be the first total eclipse visible only in the USA since the country was founded in 1776.
Why is the total solar eclipse only visible in the U.S.?
Eclipses are only visible in parts of the world at any given time. This one just happens to be in the U.S. A total solar eclipse is coming on August 21, and even if you’re not astronomically blessed enough to be in its path, you won’t be left in the dark.
What time is the solar eclipse?
It depends on where you live. The eclipse will start on the West Coast in Oregon and trace a 67-mile wide path east across the country, finally exiting the East Coast in South Carolina. The total eclipse begins in Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PDT. (To be the first person on land to see the eclipse, be on the waterfront at Government Point, Ore., at 10:15:56.5 a.m. PDT.) The total eclipse will end near Charleston, S.C., at 2:48 p.m. EDT.
How long will the solar eclipse last?
At any given location, the total eclipse will last for around 2 or 3 minutes. But from the beginning of the eclipse in Oregon to the end of the eclipse in South Carolina, the eclipse will last about an hour and a half.
Where is the "path of totality?"
The path, in which the moon's shadow sweeps across the Earth's surface, will cross parts of 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The biggest cities directly in the path include Nashville, and Columbia and Charleston in South Carolina. Both Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., are just outside the path.