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What you should know about next Monday's solar eclipse

You’ve probably seen photos of solar eclipses in your science textbooks or presentations, but now, you might have the chance to see a solar eclipse in real life!

On Aug. 21, a total eclipse will be visible across the United States. So what exactly does this mean? Simply put, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the sun. A total solar eclipse occurs when the sun and moon line up in a certain way that makes the moon and sun look the same size to us.

What you will see depends on where you are in the U.S. Most people will see a partial eclipse, in which the moon will cover part of the sun. Partial solar eclipses look pretty amazing! People in certain areas—those along the “path of totality”—will have the chance to see the total eclipse, which will start in Oregon and end in South Carolina. NASA has created helpful information to help you find out what you will see and where you can see the total eclipse, including an interactive map.

An important thing to remember is that it’s not safe to look at the light directly during an eclipse. You must protect your eyes with special glasses—but your favorite sunglasses won’t be strong enough. You'll need to buy special eclipse glasses, and the American Astronomical Society warns that many unsafe solar eclipse glasses are being sold. On its website, you can find a list of companies selling safe glasses.

Will you watch the Great American Eclipse? Let us know in the comments


by Paige Sheffield | 8/15/2017