Scientists prepare for rare phenomenon during total solar eclipse

Library to host solar eclipse programs

All eyes will be on the sky on August 21 as a total solar eclipse makes its way across North America.

The moon will pass between the sun and Earth and block all or part of the sun. The only safe time to look without safety equipment is during the narrow window when the moon totally covers the sun - if you happen to be on the path where the total eclipse will be visible.

This NASA illustration shows the path of totality (marked by the darker line with the black circles) and the percentage of the eclipse visible in bands radiating from the main line of the moon's shadow. "It's not an especially wide path of totality, but it crosses the US and no other country". More than two million eclipse glasses will be given out free of charge by over 7,000 public libraries across the U.S. To find out if a library near you is participating in the giveaway program, which is being mounted with help from the National Center for Interactive Learning. This event is free and will be held rain or shine, but space is limited. While it will be impressive, it won't be quite as life-changing as experiencing the event along the path of totality which sits to our north. But there are plenty of ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun, including special-purpose solar filters such as "eclipse glasses" or handheld solar viewers.

"Just because there's an eclipse doesn't mean the sun lessens in power". Tennessee Nashville hasn't had a total solar eclipse since July 29, 1478. There, the solar eclipse starts at 11:58 a.m. CDT and totality begins at 1:27 p.m. CDT, lasting for a little under two minutes.

It's going to fall across America from OR to SC along a path 60 to 70 miles wide. Get yourself solar eclipse glasses now. The library's website says "The Watcher in the Woods" should end by 2:30 p.m. Wherever you choose to go, former NASA astronaut and senior manager Steven Hawley advises booking any travel tickets and hotel reservations way in advance and to expect plenty of traffic on the road.

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It's no secret that Google has teamed up with a number of organizations, including the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation, SSI, the National Science Foundation and NASA, to distribute 2 million of these solar-viewing glasses to nearly 5,000 libraries throughout the country. Avoid glasses that are more than three years old and those with scratched or wrinkled lenses.

A solar eclipse is a slow process.

Even glasses that carry the ISO code, however, still might be unsafe, the American Astronomical Society said.

"It's something you remember your entire life, and you will tell stories to your grandchildren about it", Espenak added.

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