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Great American Eclipse Less Than Two Years Away

posted: 08/22/15
by: Danny Clemens
Solar Eclipse, glowing sun from behind moon.
StockTrek via Getty Images

The heavens will put on quite a show on August 21, 2017: for the first time since 1979, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the contiguous United States.

Dubbed the Great American Eclipse, the celestial event's 73-mile-wide path of totality will stretch across the continent, intersecting a dozen states from South Carolina to Oregon. For those lucky enough to be in the eclipse's path, the event will last between 120 and 160 seconds.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely in front of the Sun, leaving visible only a breathtaking halo of light from the Sun's corona.

"While the Sun is actually about 400 times larger in diameter than the Moon, the Moon is also about 400 times closer than the Sun," Michael Zeiler writes on GreatAmericanEclipse.com. "Therefore, the Sun and the Moon appear to be about the same size in our sky."

Throughout the event, sections of Earth in the eclipse's path of totality are darkened significantly, making for an unforgettable viewing experience.

Astronomers expect an eclipse with a similar path of totality to occur on August 12, 2045.

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