America's greatest solar eclipse since 1918 will paint a line of darkness from coast to coast on August 21—straight through the Midwest.

By Timothy Meinch
June 27, 2017

2:40 The point of maximum duration of this total eclipse, in minutes and seconds. It will pass over Illinois around 1:20 p.m.

99 Years since a total eclipse spanned the entire United States.

How dark will it get near me?

The total solar eclipse (when the moon fully blots out the sun) will trace a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina. In this stripe, day will turn to night. Rare colors appear. And viewers can briefly watch totality without eye protection. Outside that band, a partial solar eclipse (when the moon crops the sun, creating a crescent shape) will cast a shadow over all of North America-so it's worth sneaking out of work for a peek. (Tips for safe viewing are abundant online.)

What's it like?

Eclipse-chasers describe totality as a vastly different experience than any other celestial event. Birds might fall into an eerie silence. Nocturnal animals may wake up. Unusual shadow bands can rapidly move across the ground.

Did you say … eclipse-chasers?

Yep. People go nuts for total solar eclipses. Chasers from around the world started booking hotel rooms three years ago in Midwest cities.

Eclipse image courtesy of

Get nerdy

For detailed eclipse science, guides and time-stamped viewing maps of the eclipse path (or to order safety glasses), check out

Eclipse Events

Dozens of Midwest communities along the 2017 eclipse path are planning big weekend parties (food, live music, art fairs, lectures) leading up to the once-in-a-lifetime cosmic spectacle. Here's a sample.

Alliance Nebraska

Toadstock music festival and the most kitschy viewing spot: Carhenge (like Stonehenge, but made of cars).

Ravenna/Kearney Nebraska

A dual-city festival, with a chance to hear from an active NASA astronaut.

St. Joseph Missouri

Camping, plus a viewing party with Michael Bakich, senior editor at Astronomy magazine.

Carbondale Illinois

Just a few miles from the point of longest eclipse duration.

Hopkinsville Kentucky

Summer Salute music fest and Eclipse Con (a space-theme comic and cartoon convention).