If you’ve been avoiding the news for the past six months (and hey, I don’t blame you) you may have missed that America’s about to experience its first total eclipse of the sun in 38 years. On August 21 the moon will completely blot out the sun, and stretches of the United States will be in complete darkness as the moon casts its shadow. During an eclipse like this, the temperature drops, light takes on a spooky filtered effect, and the sun’s corona is visible as a spectacular aura around the moon, just for a moment.
People are rightfully stoked. This is the first time since 1979 the US has been in the path of a full eclipse, and even then it was visible only in six Northwestern states. This year’s will cross the country from Oregon to South Carolina, marking the first time in 99 years that we’ve had a coast-to-coast eclipse.
The madness is still ramping up. If you haven't made travel plans yet, be sure to look for late flight deals to cities in the path of totality, and watch out for counterfeit eclipse glasses.
But unlike in horseshoes, hand grenades, and any work you do after lunch on a Friday, “close enough” just isn’t going to cut it. As one quote from Columbia, South Carolina’s dedicated eclipse page put it:
“For those who choose to experience this eclipse outside the path, a partial eclipse is all they will see. Even if the sun is 99.9% eclipsed for these observers, they will not experience the full, jaw-dropping, knee-buckling, emotionally-overloading, completely overwhelming spectacle that is totality.” -- Dan McGlaun, veteran of 12 total solar eclipses
What Dan is trying to say, y’all, is that to really experience this thing you’re probably going to have to travel. The “line of totality” is only about 70 miles wide, and even within that 70 miles the duration of the eclipse can only be a few seconds, so only a handful of places will be truly great for viewing. We took a look at The Great American Eclipse’s picks for the best places to see it, and found out what’s going on there. Then, three days from the eclipse, we added the weather forecasts for each, courtesy of Wunderground.