On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cross the continental United States from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. The last time a total eclipse crossed the United States from sea to sea was June 8, 1918.

The 2017 eclipse, in either total or partial phase, can be seen by over 500 million people in North and South America, Europe and Africa. In the US, millions will gather along a tiny ribbon less than 100 miles wide to see totality, the complete blocking out of the sun by the Moon which will reveal the solar corona. The rest of entire country will be able to see a partial eclipse. It is truly a historic event and a wonderful opportunity to view one of nature's most stunning displays.

Looking directly at the sun is bad for your eyes, except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse. The brightness can leave you with holes in your retina, an afterimage or sight loss.

A total solar eclipse is about as bright as a full moon and just as safe to look at. But the sun, at any other time, is dangerously bright; view it only through special-purpose safe solar glasses.

That's why the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special purpose solar filters, such as "eclipse glasses" or hand-held solar viewers. Remember, NASA has advised that the glasses are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.

Here are some other tips:

  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • If you are within the path of totality remove your solar filter only when the Moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.

Fun Facts

  • The last total eclipse in the United States occurred on Feb. 26, 1979.
  • The last total eclipse that crossed the entire continent occurred on June 8, 1918.
  • The last time a total solar eclipse occurred exclusively in the U.S. was in 1778.
  • Experiencing a total solar eclipse where you live happens on average about once in 375 years.
  • 12.2 million Americans live in the path of the total eclipse.
  • About 200 million people (a little less than 2⁄3 the nation's population) live within one day's drive of the path of this total eclipse.


  • NOAA National Center for Environmental Information, Ready, Set, Eclipse
  • NASA Total Solar Eclipse Website
  • South Carolina Emergency Management Division, Solar Eclipse Website
  • Oregon Office of Emergency Management Solar Eclipse Preparedness Website
  • National Operations Center for Excellent Solar Eclipse Website
  • American Astronomical Society Solar Eclipse Website
Check out NASA's Total Solar Eclipse Interactive Map