There's only one real danger during a total solar eclipse

It's been almost 100 years since most of the U.S. saw a total solar eclipse. Even if you've never seen one yourself, you might've heard how they can have surreal or even dangerous effects. Luckily, they're mostly myths.

First: An eclipse will not change how gravity works. The moon will keep orbiting the way it always does.

"It's not closer to the sun than it is normally; it's not interacting with the sun in any way unusually," says Dr. Angela Speck, director of astronomy at the University of Missouri.

The moon does not make sunlight any more dangerous.

States where you can see the total eclipse:

16 PHOTOS
States where you can see the total solar eclipse of 2017
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States where you can see the total solar eclipse of 2017

Salem's the first sizable U.S. city with a chance to catch the eclipse when it hits Oregon.

Source: NASA

The eclipse will hit residents in Idaho next, with an opportunity to see totality in Idaho Falls. In Boise? Drive north a bit for your chance at totality.

Source: NASA

The eclipse sweeps across most of Wyoming, with Casper perfectly placed along the center of the path -- which means the eclipse will last longer there than on the outer edges.

Source: NASA

In Montana, but don't want to leave the state to get your eclipse fix? Totality will be visible from a tiny sliver of the Southwest corner of the state, but it's probably easier to just drive all the way to Idaho or Wyoming instead.

Source: NASA

Plenty of Nebraskans will have the chance to catch totality -- as the moon's shadow passes from the northwest corner of the state to the southeast corner.

Source: NASA

Like Montana, the total eclipse path will scrape across the tiniest portion of Iowa, but again, your best bet will likely be to travel into a state to your south or west instead. 

Source: NASA

You can catch the total eclipse from Kansas too if you head up to the northeast corner.

Source: NASA

Folks in Kansas City will get to see the total eclipse in Missouri, along with those in Columbia as it heads southeast across the state. St. Louis residents might need to drive a bit to see the total show.

Source: NASA

Residents of southern Illinois will get a total eclipse treat too, but anyone north of Belleville will need to drive to catch the big sight.

Source: NASA

Most folks in southwest Kentucky will get a chance to see the moon's shadow too.

Source: NASA

The eclipse will sweep across a big swath of Tennessee next, hitting Nashville and sweeping between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

Source: NASA

The northeast corner of Georgia is in the eclipse's path too. 

Source: NASA

Only a handful of North Carolinians will be able to see the total eclipse from their homes, as it hits a tiny portion of the southwest corner of the state.

Source: NASA

Source: NASA

Check out the entire eclipse's path!

Source: NASA

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"I've heard people say — 'But the moon's atmosphere focuses the light of the sun and makes it stronger!'" Speck says. "The moon doesn't have an atmosphere, so we really don't have to worry about that."

And the sun itself is no more dangerous than usual.

"[The corona is] so hot that it's giving off lots of X-rays and ultraviolet light," Speck says. "We know X-rays are bad for us. But the corona's doing it all the time. The corona is always there."

And so are Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere — the things that protect us from cosmic radiation in the first place.

SEE MORE: Learning A Ton Of New Science From 2 Minutes Of A Total Solar Eclipse

But it will be dark — so dark that some animals seem to think it's suddenly nighttime. During some previous eclipses, scientists have recorded cases of bats coming out to hunt, crickets starting to chirp and cows heading back to the barn.

"The only thing that is at all dangerous about solar eclipse day is that on a normal day you know you shouldn't look at the sun," Speck says. "And on this day, you want to."

So, be sure to wear approved eclipse eye protection. At any point other than totality, the sunlight from the eclipse is still strong enough to permanently damage your eyes.

Incredible hotels for the solar eclipse:

10 PHOTOS
Best hotels to stay at to see the Great American Eclipse
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Best hotels to stay at to see the Great American Eclipse

Bend, Oregon, is set to be one of the first locations to experience the solar eclipse, and the brand new SpringHill Suites is hosting its signature 'Art of Local' event for both guests and the community on August 19 to ring in the phenomenon.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott, located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, lies just 15 minutes from Grand Teton National Park, one of the projected locations within the eclipse's path. To celebrate, a Pink Floyd tribute band will be performing a celestial-inspired concert set to wow fans and star-gazers alike.
The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain in Avon, Colorado, is offering a special package for space fanatics that has a fun educational component. The deal includes suite accommodations, access to an exclusive solar event with the Vail Valley's Walking Mountains Science Center, evening s'mores and special viewing glasses.
As the largest city entirely within the path of this total solar eclipse, Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the best places to take in the natural show. The Renaissance Nashville Hotel is offering a Solar Eclipse Package for guests seeking to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It includes deluxe accommodations, a pair of eclipse glasses, an eclipse t-shirt and two tickets to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Gaylord Opryland Resort offers guests and families an unforgettable getaway with all the excitement and energy of Music City. The sprawling property will provide guests with eclipse viewing glasses and viewing tips upon check-in. On August 21, travelers can stroll over to the designated viewing area on the event lawn where eclipse-themed beverages and snacks will be available for purchase.
Columbia, South Carolina, is predicted to be the home of the longest total solar eclipse for a metro area on the East Coast. The centrally-located Courtyard Columbia Downtown at USC is the perfect hotel for travelers looking to celebrate all week long, as the town will host more than 50 eclipse-related festivals and events between August 18 and 21.
The Great American Eclipse is set to cross 21 states and select hotels will be offering viewing glasses for guests including Four Points by Sheraton Little Rock Midtown in Arkansas ...
... the JW Marriott Indianapolis in Indiana ...
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