What you need to know about this month's total solar eclipse

An illustration of the sun's corona during an eclipse in 1871

Several viewing events are being planned in Fairfax County. About 60% of the sun will be covered-up by the moon, which makes for a "partial eclipse".

It will look like a typical overcast, dark kind of a day. Yet here's something that you may not have thought of: How will a total or even a partial solar eclipse affect homes and workplaces that use solar power? Eclipses in the US have been exceedingly rare.

Pierce said the moon will start encroaching on the sun around noon, and the eclipse will finish by about 3 p.m.

The total solar eclipse on August 21 is especially rare because the moon's shadow will be slashing across the entirety of the U.S.in a narrow, 70 mile-wide path.

Two local science organizations are offering help to people wondering how to observe the solar eclipse, which will impact all of the mainland United States on August 21.

That means you won't get see that one, but your great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren will.

To qualify, sites must have a security plan in place and a designated expert on hand to provide accurate eclipse information.

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Solar eclipses happen when the moon passes between the earth and the sun in such a way that its shadow falls onto the earth. The moon's travel across the face of the sun will begin at 11:30 a.m., and end at 2:26 p.m., with the peak eclipse coverage being at 12:57 p.m.

You can now take off your eye protection and look at the eclipsed sun because, at this point, daylight has faded into night.

To view the solar eclipse directly without damage to your eyes, you need special solar filter glasses. The easiest way to view the eclipse safely is with eclipse glasses.

A partial eclipse will already be occurring when the sun rises in Hawaii, and will come into view just after 9 a.m. on the OR coast, so when it's about noon in Baltimore. From about 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. on Monday, August 21 the "Great American Solar Eclipse" will roll across the Great Northwest to Appalachia, then off the coast of SC.

If you wear prescription glasses, keep them on under your solar eclipse glasses.

"During a regular eclipse, if you stay in one place, you can only see the corona for 1 or 2 minutes", Uitenbroeck said, "Putting telescopes at different places allows us to build up a time series where we can see how the corona changes". The reasoning: the most recent solar eclipse to cross through the area.

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