From coast to coast in the U.S., people are gearing up for what might be the greatest celestial show North America has seen in 99 years. On Monday, Aug. 21, spectators will have the pleasure of witnessing one of nature’s most remarkable sights: a total solar eclipse.
This rare cosmic occurrence takes place when the moon completely blocks the sun, casting a shadow that briefly turns daylight into darkness.
According to NASA, the eclipse will be visible along a narrow path of totality that runs from Oregon to South Carolina. This means that for close to two hours, 14 American states will have more than two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day.
“This solar eclipse is unlike anything people have ever seen,” says Dr. Angela Speck, director of astronomy at the University of Missouri. “If they haven’t seen an eclipse, they don’t know what they’re in for. It’s a multisensory thing—there’s a lot going on. Birds will start flying around during the 20 minutes before darkness, but once the dark hits, they all go quiet, so you’ll notice a silence.”
People from all over the world are clamoring to find the perfect place to get a glimpse of the solar event. From the Northwest to the Southeast, we’ve found some of the best places across America to experience this rare phenomenon.
The Oregon Garden (Oregon)
If flowers and blooms are your thing, Oregon’s Total Eclipse of the Garden event is a great way to experience the eclipse. Located in Silverton, the Oregon Garden will host a viewing party, complete with live music, food and drinks, making for a fun and picturesque way to experience the solar occurrence.
Saluki Stadium (Illinois)
Illinois locals hoping to get a glimpse of the eclipse should head to Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill. Located on the campus of Southern Illinois University, the stadium will host a public viewing event emceed by Planetary Radio’s Mat Kaplan. In addition to observing the awe-inspiring spectacle, attendees will be able to participate in a variety of science-based activities developed by NASA Eclipse 2017, the Adler Planetarium and other groups.
Cosmo Park (Missouri)
A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, Cosmo Park plans to host several activities leading up to the eclipse. Boasting perfect views in the line of totality, live entertainment and a plethora of family-friendly activities, the park will be the perfect place to take in the celestial show.
Adventure Science Center (Tennessee)
As the largest city within the eclipse’s totality path, Nashville will likely be a popular viewing spot. The eclipse will be particularly exciting for those attending the Music City Eclipse Science & Technology Festival, hosted by Adventure Science Center. Guests will be able to enjoy live music performances, science demos, games and a giant screen broadcasting footage from NASA of the eclipse from space.
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum (South Carolina)
Mount Pleasant, S.C., will be jam-packed with eclipse-themed events, but one of the hottest tickets in town will be the Eclipse on a Warship. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and ABC News 4 (WCIV-TV) have joined together to host the event aboard the USS Yorktown, better known as the Fighting Lady. The ship will be one of the final locations in the U.S. to see the total solar eclipse.
And if you don’t live in one of the cities along the eclipse’s path of totality, you’re not completely out of luck. The next total eclipse in the Americas will occur in 2024. Let the countdown begin!
Editor’s note: As remarkable as this eclipse will be, there are risks associated with viewing it. Looking directly at the eclipse in early and later phases, when much of the sun is still visible, is unsafe. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation can cause irreparable damage to the retina of the eyes. Sunglasses, camera filters, telescopes and other devices don’t provide enough protection. Per NASA: “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.”