2017 Total Solar Eclipse Who? What? Where? When? and How?
Who Can See It
Lots of people! Everyone in the contiguous United States, in fact, everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will see at least a partial solar eclipse, while the thin path of totality will pass through portions of 12 states.
What is It?
This celestial event is a solar eclipse in which the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to an hour and a half, from beginning to end, as viewed from a given location. For this eclipse the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun will be about two minutes and 40 seconds. The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979.
Where Can You See It?
You can see a partial eclipse, where the moon covers only a part of the sun, anywhere in North America (see "Who can see it?"). To see a total eclipse, where the moon fully covers the sun for a short few minutes, you must be in the path of totality. The path of totality is 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 Salem, Oregon at 17:17 UTC. Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. It will leave the U.S. near Charleston, South Carolina where maximum totality will occur at 6:47 UTC. Its longest duration will be at Carbondale, Illinois.
When Can You See It?
Times for partial and total phases of the eclipse vary depending on your location. This interactive eclipse map will show you times for the partial and total eclipse anywhere in the world.
How Can You See It?
You never want to look directly at the sun without appropriate protection except during totality. That could severely hurt your eyes. However, there are numerous safe ways to view an eclipse. Click here for eclipse viewing techniques and safety.
An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won't want to miss, but you must carefully follow safety procedures. It is vital that you protect your eyes at all times. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are NOT safe for looking at the Sun. To date, only three manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and hand-held solar viewers meet the standards for such products.
The 2017 solar eclipse presents many opportunities for amateur astronomers and lifelong learners to get in on the fun of doing science. This includes research projects about the sun, the moon, other sun-planet-moon systems, and even eclipses in other stellar systems.