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Millions will be watching as the moon passes over the sun to cast a midday twilight over parts of the United States. 

(Top left to bottom right) The phases of the moon as it passed over the sun during Indonesia’s total solar eclipse of March 9, 2016.

The natural universe is so full of wonders that it continues to capture raw awe to this day. Here’s why today’s solar eclipse makes this list.

What’s the big deal?

Total solar eclipses have been described as life-changing universal flukes. This happens when the moon’s shadow falls on the Earth as it passes between us and the sun. Aside from the intense visual experience, you begin to experience the world changing around you – shadows grow sharper, winds gets stronger and colder, and the sky darkens, causing a midday twilight in the path of totality.

What is the path of totality?

On the afternoon of August 21, the first solar eclipse in United States alone since 1776 will envelop a 70-mile stretch from Oregon to South Carolina in temporary darkness. This area will experience the totality of the eclipse, in which the changes can be disorienting to animals (and most human beings unaware of the event), but it only lasts about two minutes.

More than 12.2 million Americans fall in the path of totality, with experts predicting it to be the most captured and shared event of its kind in history.

What’s the best way to see it?

Million Air will be flying customers to remote airports blacked out by the phenomenon, where they’ll witness it from lawn chairs near the wings of the plane – a $10,000 ‘wing-gating’ experience with commentary from an astronomer. Alaska Air Group Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. offer viewing opportunities too.

With partial eclipses visible as far as San Diego, a large part of the United States is buzzing with news of this astronomical event. We got a total solar eclipse pretty close to home last year in Indonesia (coinciding with Nyepi) but it will be some time before it happens in this side of the world again.

To catch a glimpse of this solar eclipse, tune in to one of the many live streams.

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