As you know today there will be a total solar eclipse — the first one in about 100 years — and it will be visible from coast to coast, NASA reports. Here’s what you need to know ahead of this otherworldly magic astronomy.

What is it?

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon completely covers the sun making only its corona (its atmosphere, you know, the spiky bits you draw off it) visible. This renders everything dark. Though eclipses happen pretty often, this one is special because it’s total and will be visible (wholly, if not partially) across the continental U.S.

It’ll take about 90 minutes for the moon’s shadow to fully cross the sun’s. That means the eclipse will start at 10:15 a.m. on the West Coast and wrap up at about 2:45 p.m. EST. This map from the American Astronomical Society shows exactly when the eclipse is hitting your state and how long it’ll be visible for you. On average, it’s visible for two minutes and 30 seconds.

Will I be able to see it?

Per NASA, anyone within 70 miles of the eclipse’s “path of totality” will be able to see the entire thing. That path of totality is from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. Most everyone else will be able to see at least a partial eclipse. Again, you can see what kind of eclipse view you’re in for here.

Am I allowed to look at it?

Yes! And no. Using special solar eclipse glasses are necessary if you’re planning to look up at what’s going on (as you should! This is historical!). If you’re still solar-eclipse-glasses-less, you can try and get a pair from lots of places — find a comprehensive list of vendors from the Washington Post here.

I really can’t find glasses, is it SO bad if I just look at the eclipse naked-eyed for a sec?

Yes. It’s very bad to go eyeballs out for an eclipse like this. 


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