FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - The Great American Eclipse of 2017 is almost here. The path of totality (where viewers get total darkness for a couple of minutes) is more than 500 miles to our north. That path is only 70 miles wide, but the partial shadow of the moon actually covers the entire lower 48 states during the event.
This is the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years. They often occur every couple of years, but typically can only be seen in the middle of nowhere, like the Pacific Ocean or the Antarctic. Monday's event is special because it sweeps across the United States. The last time this happened was in 1918.
So, unless you want to jump in your car to see this rare celestial event (I recommend Missouri since it's the closest distance to the path of totality), you'll be stuck with a partial show. Starting around 11:30 a.m. or so on Monday, you'll notice the dimming of the sun. The moon will move across a portion of the sun's surface over the next three hours. Maximum coverage will hit just after 1:00 p.m. when about 75 percent of the sun's surface is covered. Check out places where you can watch!
Incidentally, many people are planning to travel for the eclipse. As many as 7.4 million people could head into smaller towns on Monday simply to experience this rare solar event, and authorities are preparing for the rush of visitors as though it were a natural disaster, with emergency declarations and public safety warnings.
If you do plan to watch the solar eclipse, be sure that you are wearing a pair of approved eclipse glasses. They are likely hard to find at this point, but essential for safe viewing. Even with the glasses, doctors urge strict adult supervision for children under the age of 16 years old.
As we all have been warned, PLEASE don't let the kids or anyone look directly at the sun, even if clouds move in front of it. You must cover your eyes with an approved sun filter. The forecast for Monday here in North Texas looks good right now. You should get a nice view... even if it's only a part of the total show.
If you can't catch the eclipse in person, you can watch our coverage live online. CBS News will be broadcasting a special report at noon with correspondents in Oregon, Wyoming, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and South Carolina. (Note: "The Young & the Restless" and "The Talk" will be preempted.) CBS 11 News weather expert Jeff Ray will also be in Missouri for the eclipse.
Several businesses have joined in on the 2017 eclipse excitement. Amtrak offered a special train ride to take passengers along the eclipse route. It sold out in less than a day. Southwest Airlines also offered several flights promising a fantastic view of the eclipse from the sky.
If you didn't manage to get in on those offers, all is not lost. Krispy Kreme is celebrating the eclipse by giving its donut glaze a chocolate sheen for the first time. The company said that this gives its donuts "the same effect" as the moon passing in front of the sun. The chocolate-glazed donuts are available all weekend long.
The next total solar eclipse will happen on April 8, 2024. In that case, the line of totality will cross Texas before heading north through the Midwest toward Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo. The city of Carbondale, Illinois will get to experience a total solar eclipse on both Monday and in 2024.
for more features.