A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. The darkness of the moon casts a shadow over the sun, visible from the Earth. A total eclipse is an even rarer occurrence when the moon completely covers the sun, and the Earth is left in complete darkness. On August 21st, 2017, North America will witness the first solar eclipse to cross the entire continental United States in 99 years. Also, it’s a total solar eclipse!

What you need to know about the Great American Solar Eclipse:

1. The path of totality of the eclipse will stretch almost 70 miles wide, which will be visible from Oregon to South Carolina. So people living in that 70-mile stretch will be left in complete darkness for a few minutes. Additionally, the path of totality will cross 14 states. Over 200 million people reside within a 1-day drive of the 70-mile path.

2. Everyone in North America will be able to see at least a partial eclipse. So even though New York doesn’t fall under the eclipse’s path of totality, we will get a partial view.

3. This is expected to be one of the most viewed, best observed eclipse ever! The path of totality will cut diagonally across the entire United States, attracting a lot of eyes. As expected, millions of skywatchers across the continent are preparing to witness it.

4. During a total eclipse, the sun’s crown is visible to the naked eye. This crown, known as corona, is the sun’s outer atmosphere. It stretches millions of miles into space.

5. Now, is it safe to view a solar eclipse during totality? Yes, but not with your naked eyes; exposing your eyes directly to the rays might cause damage form the UV rays. So when you view the eclipse, it’s best to wear protective glasses. Using indirect viewing devices during all the phases of the eclipse is also a good idea. Look for glasses that meet ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.

6. You can stream the total solar eclipse live from wherever you are. There are several ways to do this, including CBS News livestream. You can also find pictures on Instagram and there are various NASA viewing locations where you can watch the eclipse from.

7. If you miss it, your next chance to witness a total solar eclipse is in 7 years. In 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross the US border in Texas, moving up into the eastern half of USA. Not only will its shadow be wider than the one this year, it will also last longer — almost 4 minutes, as compared to roughly 2 minutes in 2017.

How Does Eclipse affect solar panels

The owners of photovoltaic solar power panels don’t need to worry about energy supply during the eclipse. New York doesn’t fall under the path of totality, and even if it did, we have the grid to fall back on! Solar consumers aren’t left in the dark when the sun isn’t shining, or during the night, because solar energy systems work in tandem with the utility grid. Whenever the panels aren’t producing energy, energy is provided by the grid!