21 August 2017: The Great American Eclipse


Total solar eclipse 2017: Everything to know about the upcoming celestial event

The countdown is on for Aug. 21, when a total solar eclipse will arc across the continental United States for the first time in decades.

Here's everything you need to know about this rare and striking astronomical event that you won't want to miss.

What is it?

A total solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, lasting for up to about three hours from beginning to end, according to NASA. The lunar shadow will darken the sky, temperatures will drop and bright stars will appear at a time that is normally broad daylight.

Retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer Fred Espenak said the experience usually lasts for just a couple minutes, but it's truly out of this world.


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