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Mar 22, 2017 01:45 PM EDT

'The Great American Total Solar Eclipse' Coming This Summer

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Americans will have a treat this coming summer, for the first total solar eclipse, in nearly 40 years, will pass through the continental United States, from Oregon to South Carolina, on Aug. 21, 2017.

In five months, "The Great American Total Solar Eclipse" will have Americans gazing at the sky for a rare and spectacular celestial show. The moon's shadow will traverse 12 states at 1,700 miles per hour from the coast of Oregon to the coast of South Carolina and will run for approximately an hour and 33 minutes, coast to coast.

The 12 states in the path of the solar eclipse will start at the Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. At any given location, the total eclipse will last between two to three minutes. NASA provides more detailed information here.

The coming eclipse is special and quite rare; the last time that an eclipse like this happened was in 1776, wherein its path of totality lies completely within the United States and no other country. Astronomer and eclipse expert Jay Pasachoff, at Williams College in Massachusetts, states that people who are in the "path of totality" for the big event are in for an unforgettable experience, Space.com reported.

The best spots to view this summer solar eclipse according to USA Today, are as follows: the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, Historic Charleston in South Carolina, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Carbondale in Illinois, Nashville in Tennessee, Hopkinsville in Kentucky, Great Smoky Mountains National Park between North Carolina and Tennessee and St. Joseph in Massachusetts.

Spectacular as the solar eclipse maybe, it is advisable to be safe and not look directly into the sun before its actual total occlusion, without proper eye protection. It is best to avoid serious eye damage.

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