Total solar eclipse 2017: When and where to see it

On Monday, a total eclipse of the sun will cross the United States. Technically, the moon will be seen to cover the face of the sun for about two and a half minutes, as observed from the ground.

All of North America, northern Mexico, the Caribbean and even the north of South America will see at least a partial eclipse – half the sun’s face covered by the moon.

The streak of totality – 100 percent coverage, the path of mystical power in the eyes of some – is a ribbon stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, some 100km wide throughout its route.

The eclipse will take 94 minutes to cross the US, giving each place approximately two and a half minutes of darkness. The shadow will cross the Oregon Pacific coast at 17:15 GMT, (10:15 local time), travelling at 5,300 kilometres per hour. Salem, Oregon, will see totality for one minute, 52 seconds.

The total eclipse streaks through 14 states: Oregon, Idaho, (a tiny bit of Montana), Wyoming, Nebraska, northeast Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, (small parts of North Carolina, Georgia) and South Carolina. The shadow will have slowed to 2,700 km/h as it leaves Charleston for the Atlantic.

The place with the longest-lasting view of total eclipse is in that small part of southern Illinois crossed by the shadow. Totality will be seen for two minutes and 42 seconds just east of the Mississippi, very likely somewhere on Buffalo Gap Road.

Being able to see the eclipse will be weather dependent and cloud cover will obviously be critical, given that the window of opportunity is only about two minutes, wherever you are.

The current forecast is not a good one for Missouri with overcast and wet conditions likely. Southern Illinois, western Kentucky and Nebraska all look showery, so breaks in the clouds are possible. Mountain banner or wave clouds are possible in Wyoming, easier to avoid as they tend to stay in one place. And on the exit run, South Carolina also looks cloudy and damp.

On current form, the adage “west is best” works for reliably clear skies.

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