Ever dreamed of seeing the sky darken and the stars twinkle in the middle of a summer's day? Then mark your calendar for Aug. 21, 2017, because if you're in the US the chances are good that you'll be among the 200 million or so people within a day's drive of the country's first total eclipse of the sun since 1979, reports Space.com. While total solar eclipses are more common than many realize, with 68 this century, this eclipse will be the first since 1918 where the moon's shadow—the so-called "path of totality"—will sweep across the US from coast to coast. It's being called the Great American Eclipse because it will be visible from no other country on the planet. Total eclipses are technically "a fluke of celestial mechanics and time," adds Space.com, because right now the moon, which is gradually moving away from Earth, happens to be the perfect distance to appear equal in size to the sun.
The moon's shadow will totally block the sun for the longest duration, two minutes and 40 seconds, just outside of Hopkinsville, Ky., and is being hailed as the largest event to ever hit the town of 32,000 people, reports UPI. But the best bet for clear viewing is said to be in Oregon, where totality will only last 2 minutes but there's a 70% chance of clear skies, as opposed to just 50% from Kentucky east through South Carolina. The path of totality will average 67 miles in width, with a few notable cities in its path, including Lincoln, Neb., Columbia, Mo., and Nashville, Tenn. To those outside the path of totality but in the continental US, a partial eclipse should still be visible, though the sky will be considerably less dark. (The last total solar eclipse was in March.)