What you need to know about the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21

The total solar eclipse seen from Svalbard, Norway Friday March 20, 2015. An eclipse is darkening parts of Europe on Friday in a rare solar event that won\'t be repeated for more than a decade. (AP Photo/Haakon Mosvold Larsen)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — On August 21, North America will be treated to an event of a lifetime, a total solar eclipse.

Americans of all ages are expected to join by the millions to watch the sky grow dark in midday and then slowly brighten again.

Total solar eclipses occur every year or two or three, often in the middle of nowhere like the South Pacific or Antarctic. What makes this one so special is that it will cut diagonally across the entire United States.

It’s been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

Not all of North America will be able to experience a total eclipse, only those in the path of totality. Totality is the brief phase of the eclipse when the moon is totally blocking the sun.

The Bay Area will experience a partial eclipse shortly after 10 a.m.

The KRON4 Morning News will extend our news coverage until 11 a.m. to cover the eclipse. You can also watch live streams of the eclipse as it travels across the country on KRON4.com and KRON4’s Facebook page

(NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio) Where the track of the total solar eclipse will be

The path of totality will pass over Oregon, continuing through the heartland all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. Those on the outskirts — all the way into Canada, Central America and even the upper part of South America — will be treated to a partial eclipse.

It will take 90 minutes from coast to coast and 3.8% of the nation will get to see totality while 99% or about 324 million people will see a partial eclipse.

Those who want to witness the eclipse of the century will need eye protection.

If you look at the sun during the eclipse, it will burn your eyes out, according to NASA. Except during totality.

And regular sun glasses won’t do the trick. You’ll need eclipse glasses, or glasses that have been specially designed to block out harmful light to your eyes. They will hold an ISO-12312-2 rating of certification (ISO= International Organization for Standardization). You can buy them online on Amazon and in-store at places like Walmart. Local libraries often give them out for free.

Also, if you’re wondering if you can take a picture of the eclipse on your smartphone, NASA made a cheat sheet for just that.

OTHER ECLIPSE STORIES:

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