Solar eclipses have been blamed in the past for war, famine, and the deaths of kings. But the upcoming total eclipse on August 1 will mostly be celebrated by excited skywatchers—even if it won't break any records.
The sun will be completely obscured for just under two and a half minutes, "a tad on the short side," according to astrophysicist Fred Espenak, an eclipse expert based at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
A typical eclipse lasts for three minutes, Espenak said, and the longest possible is seven and a half minutes.
When it starts, this year's full eclipse will be visible from a narrow arc spanning the Northern Hemisphere.
The eclipse will start around 8:30 a.m. Greenwich mean time in the eastern part of the arc, leading to totality in just under an hour.
In a much wider swath of the globe—including northeastern North America along with most of Europe and Asia—people will be able to see a partial eclipse.Read more