2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Everything You Need to Know

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By Jeanna Bryner and Denise Chow

On Monday, Aug. 21, the Great American Eclipse will give those in the United States a rare sight — the moon will slip in front of the sun, blocking the rays from hitting Earth and resulting in a gorgeous solar eclipse for those in the path of totality, from Oregon to South Carolina, and a partial one for those outside that path. The U.S. won’t be privy to such a view until April 8, 2024, when those in North American will be able to see the total solar eclipse.

To help you prepare for a fun and safe eclipse-viewing, Live Science has compiled everything you need to know, from where to watch, how to watch and the science behind the event.

About every 18 months, the moon, sun and Earth are perfectly aligned and the moon casts a shadow over Earth. Just a small portion of our planet falls within the center of that shadow (the path of totality), while other spots see a partial solar eclipse. Every two to five years, on average, Earthlings are treated to a partial solar eclipse in which the moon, sun and Earth aren’t exactly lined up. Though spectacular, solar eclipses are pure coincidences, astronomers say.

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