Millions of Americans are already in place to watch the total solar eclipse on Monday. It's the first one to sweep coast-to-coast across the United States in nearly 100 years.Peak coverage of the sun (97% for Atlanta) happens at 2:36pm and visibility should be good! @GoodDayAtlanta pic.twitter.com/S4UDqOoabk-- Joanne Feldman FOX 5 (@JoanneFOX5) August 21, 2017
The eclipse is expected to be the most observed, most studied and most photographed eclipse ever. Astronomers consider a full solar eclipse the grandest of cosmic spectacles.
Southernmost Illinois will see the most darkness, two minutes and 44 seconds, but all of North America will get at least a partial eclipse.The big day is here! #SolarEclipse2017 and the forecast is favorable. Be prepared for it to be hot! @GoodDayAtlanta pic.twitter.com/aSc1iHzFwZ-- Joanne Feldman FOX 5 (@JoanneFOX5) August 21, 2017
A number of towns in the North Georgia Mountains are bracing for monumental crowds. In downtown Clayton and all over Rabun County, tens of thousands of people are expected to visit for the solar eclipse, and locals and businesses alike are totally embracing it.
The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man's land, like the vast Pacific or the poles. This will be the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.
The moon hasn't thrown this much shade at the U.S. since 1918. That was the country's last coast-to-coast total eclipse.
In fact, the U.S. mainland hasn't seen a total solar eclipse since 1979 - and even then, only five states in the Northwest experienced total darkness before the eclipse veered in Canada.
Monday's total eclipse will cast a shadow that will race through 14 states, entering near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 1:16 p.m. EDT, moving diagonally across the heartland and then exiting near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:47 p.m. EDT. The path will cut 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) across the land and will be just 60 to 70 miles (96 kilometers to 113 kilometers) wide.
Scientists everywhere agree: Put the phones and cameras down and enjoy the greatest natural show on Earth with your own (protected) eyes.
The only time it's safe to look directly without protective eyewear is during totality, when the sun is 100 percent covered. Otherwise, keep the solar specs on or use pinhole projectors that can cast an image of the eclipse.
The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.More