NASA: Total solar eclipse to stretch across the U.S.

Total solar eclipse seen from Indonesia, Photo Date: March 8, 2015 (MGN)

On Monday, Aug. 21, the United States will be in the path of a total solar eclipse. The eclipse will stretch for about 70 miles and be visible from coast to coast, according to NASA.

The "path of totality" will cross parts of 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Anyone within the path of totality can see the total solar eclipse, NASA says. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse.

The total eclipse begins in Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PST and will exit the East Coast near Charleston, S.C., at 2:48 p.m. EST.

In any given location, the total eclipse will last about 2 or 3 minutes. It will take about an hour and a half for the eclipse to move across the entire country.

Here are some things to know:

1. Central Virginia is NOT in the path of totality

If you want to see a TOTAL eclipse of the sun, you'll have to head south to S.C.

View a map of eclipse totality here that shows the path of the moon's shadow across the U.S.

2. Totality MATTERS

You want to take the time to put yourself in the path of totality during the eclipse.

In the words of, "close is not close enough."

Only a total eclipse provides the "full, jaw-dropping, knee-buckling, emotionally overloading, completely overwhelming spectacle that is totality."

Unless you are in the path of totality, the sky will remain blue and you'll miss one of the most amazing things a total solar eclipse lets you experience: during totality, you can safely view the Sun's corona with your naked eye.

You've been warned.

3. If you think you've seen a total solar eclipse before but you're not sure...

You haven't seen one.

If you saw crescent-shaped shadows on the ground in elementary school and you think that's what viewing a total solar eclipse is, check out this account from, or compare your memories to what's described above in #2.

4. If you haven't made travel plans, make them now

Hotels and other rentals are filling up, and driving conditions the day of might not be ideal with plenty of people on the road to see the eclipse.

"Traffic, along with weather, will be the chief challenges for people wanting to see the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017," writes EarthSky.

Ideally, it says, you want to be near your totality-watching site of choice 1-2 days before the eclipse even happens. If hotels are booked, consider a campsite.

5. Prepare for the possibility of congested roads on eclipse day

As advised above, be in your eclipse spot 1-2 days early if you can. If you can't, be prepared for more traffic as others head west and south to see the show.

Get updated traffic information from News 13 here.

6. Get your eclipse-viewing glasses now, too

It's not safe to stare at the Sun until totality (but then, stare away)! Be sure to buy your viewing glasses in advance.

Get them online, or at some Lowe's locations.

7. It's on a Monday, so ask for the day off!

If you're serious about viewing totality, you'll need to plan to be at least as far west as Brevard, NC, (or in the path of totality in South Carolina) on Monday, August 21.

8. If it's cloudy, you might need to view from another spot

Weather in the mountains can be tricky, and your chosen spot might be cloudy. Plan ahead, follow weather radar and forecasts and be ready to view from a different spot with clearer skies.

9. There will be weird things happening around totality

Not supernatural weird things. Just some strange natural things you can only see during a total solar eclipse.

Just before the eclipse begins, you might be able to see the moon's shadow racing toward you at over 1000 miles per hour.

Crescent-shaped shadows will form under the trees.

During totality, the brief phase of the eclipse when the sky darkens and the moon covers the Sun, you can safely take your eclipse-watching glasses off. And you want to, because there will be some amazing things to see.

You might see shadow bands on the ground immediately before and after totality.

You can also look for Baily's beads and the "diamond ring."

Locally, the eclipse will start at about 1 p.m., reach totality at about 2:30 (staying there for around two minutes), and be all done by 4 p.m.

For more information, click here.

WLOS/Jennifer Saylor contributed to this report.

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