Total solar eclipses occur every year or two or three, often in the middle of nowhere like the South Pacific or Antarctic. What makes Monday's eclipse so special is that it will cut diagonally across the entire United States.
The path of totality — where day briefly becomes night — will pass over Oregon, continuing through the heartland all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. Those on the outskirts — well into Canada, Central America and even the top of South America — will be treated to a partial eclipse.
You should never look directly at the sun with your naked eye, but there are ways to watch the eclipse safely on Monday morning.
The last time a total solar eclipse swept the whole width of the U.S. was in 1918.
Hawaii experienced a total solar eclipse in 1991. But the U.S. mainland hasn't seen a total solar eclipse since 1979, when it swooped across Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, then into Canada. Before that, in 1970, a total solar eclipse skirted the Atlantic coastline from Florida to Virginia. Totality — or total darkness — exceeded three minutes in 1970, longer than the one coming up. The country's last total solar eclipse stretching from coast to coast, on June 8, 1918, came in over Oregon and Washington, and made a beeline for Florida.WHEN'S THE NEXT ONE?If you miss Monday's eclipse — or get bitten by the eclipse bug — you'll have to wait seven years to see another one in the continental U.S.
The very next total solar eclipse will be in 2019, but you'll have to be below the equator for a glimpse. We're talking the South Pacific, and Chile and Argentina. It's pretty much the same in 2020. For the U.S., the next total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024. The line of totality will cross from Texas, up through the Midwest, almost directly over Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo, New York, up over New England and out over Maine and New Brunswick, Canada.