Millions of Americans hoping for clear sky as total solar eclipse nears

SALMON, Idaho/CHARLESTON, S.C., Aug 21 (Reuters) - Millions of Americans equipped with protective glasses took up prime positions on Monday along a ribbon of land across the United States to marvel at the first total solar eclipse to unfold from coast to coast in nearly a century.

After weeks of anticipation, the sight of the moon's silhouette passing directly in front of the sun, blotting out all but a halo-like solar corona, will draw one of the largest audiences in human history, experts say, when those watching via social and broadcast media are included.

Some 12 million people live in the 70-mile-wide (113-km-wide), 2,500-mile-long (4,000-km-long) zone where the total eclipse will appear on Monday, while hordes of others have traveled to spots along the route to bask in its full glory.

RELATED: Solar eclipse 2017

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Total solar eclipse 2017
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Total solar eclipse 2017
A multiple exposure image shows the solar eclipse as it creates the effect of a diamond ring at totality as seen from Clingmans Dome, which at 6,643 feet (2,025m) is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, U.S. August 21, 2017. Location coordinates for this image are 35�33'24" N, 83�29'46" W. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People watch the solar eclipse during the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience at Madras High School in Madras, Oregon, U.S. August 21, 2017. Location coordinates for this image are 44�37?50? N 121�7?15? W. REUTERS/Jason Redmond
ROSS LAKE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: In this NASA handout, The Moon is seen as it starts passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse August 21, 2017 from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
ROSS LAKE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: In this NASA handout, the Moon is seen passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse from August 21, 2017 from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
The moon is seen passing in front of the sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington, U.S., August 21, 2017. Courtesy Bill Ingalls/NASA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT
HOPKINSVILLE, KY - AUGUST 20: Ally Pyle, 3, of Hopkinsville traced her finger along the sign marking the point of greatest eclipse, the night before the solar eclipse, Aug. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Solar Eclipse in Depoe Bay, Oregon, U.S. August 21, 2017. Location coordinates for this image are 44�48'35" N 124�3'43" W. REUTERS/Mike Blake
View of a partial solar eclipse as seen from the esplanade of the Museum of Natural History in Mexico City, on August 21, 2017. In Mexico, where there was a partial eclipse, astronomy buffs set up telescopes fitted with special sun filters in parks and squares in various cities. / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDO (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a partial solar eclipse as seen from the esplanade of the Museum of Natural History in Mexico City, on August 21, 2017. In Mexico, where there was a partial eclipse, astronomy buffs set up telescopes fitted with special sun filters in parks and squares in various cities. / AFP PHOTO / YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
SALEM, OR - AUGUST 21, 2017: A full solar eclipse as seen in Salem, Ore., on Aug. 21, 2017. (Photo by Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
People watch the start of the solar eclipse and raise their hands in prayer in an eclipse viewing event led by Native American elders, at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness 'totality' across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
The 'Bailey's Beads' effect is seen during a total solar eclipse viewed from the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience on August 21, 2017 in Madras, Oregon. Emotional sky-gazers on the US West Coast cheered and applauded Monday as the Sun briefly vanished behind the Moon -- a rare total solar eclipse that will stretch across North America for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Steve Kaltenhauser of Calgary, Canada, watches with the crowd during a total solar eclipse from the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience on August 21, 2017 in Madras, Oregon. Emotional sky-gazers on the US West Coast cheered and applauded Monday as the Sun briefly vanished behind the Moon -- a rare total solar eclipse that will stretch across North America for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
JACKSON, WY - AUGUST 21: The sun is is in full eclipse over Grand Teton National Park on August 21, 2017 outside Jackson, Wyoming. Thousands of people have flocked to the Jackson and Teton National Park area for the 2017 solar eclipse which will be one of the areas that will experience a 100% eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
The moon is seen passing in front of the sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington, U.S., August 21, 2017. Courtesy Bill Ingalls/NASA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT
A jet plane flies by the total solar eclipse in Guernsey, Wyoming U.S. August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. President Donald Trump watches the solar eclipse from the Truman Balcony at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The International Space Station, in silhouette, as it transits the sun during a partial solar eclipse seen from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington, U.S., August 21, 2017. Courtesy Bill Ingalls/NASA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT
CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: A near total eclipse is seen from South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the 'path of totality' in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 21: Holiday Inn hosts an Eclipse viewing party with Scholastic as part of the culmination event to the 'Summer of Smiles' program on August 21, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Holiday Inn)
A woman looks through a telescope on the football field at Madras High School the evening before a solar eclipse in Madras, Oregon, U.S., August 20, 2017. Picture taken August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Redmond
Curt Lerner, from Sacramento, California, prepares to watch the solar eclipse in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. August 21, 2017. Location coordinates for this image are 39�9'55"N 86�46'24". REUTERS/Harrison McClary
HOPKINSVILLE, KY - AUGUST 20: Eclipse Parking is seen along the side of the road in Hopkinsville city nearest the point of greatest eclipse, Aug. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
JACKSON, WY - AUGUST 21: Morgan Squires, a park employee waits to help park and manage cars as they arrive to view the solar eclipse in Grand Teton National Park on August 21, 2017 outside Jackson, Wyoming. Thousands of people have flocked to the Jackson and Teton National Park area for the 2017 solar eclipse which will be one of the areas that will experience a 100% eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
Keobs Avila (R) talks to Sielh Avila at sunrise as they wait for the solar eclipse in Guernsey, Wyoming, U.S. August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Ken Spencer (R) of Buckeye, Arizona, assists people as they look at the sun through a solar filter-equipped telescope at the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience in Madras, Oregon, U.S., August 20, 2017. Picture taken August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Redmond
People wait for the solar eclipse as they watch the sunrise in Guernsey, Wyoming, U.S. August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A sign telling customers that solar eclipse glasses are out of stock is displayed at a store in New York City, U.S. August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Cheerleaders use solar viewing glasses before welcoming guests to the football stadium to watch the total solar eclipse at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, U.S., August 21, 2017. Location coordinates for this image are 37�42'25" N 89�13'10" W. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A cheerleader uses solar viewing glasses before welcoming guests to the football stadium to watch the total solar eclipse at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, U.S., August 21, 2017. Location coordinates for this image are 37�42'25" N 89�13'10" W. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A worker passes solar viewing glasses to guests at the football stadium to watch the total solar eclipse at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, U.S., August 21, 2017. Location coordinates for this image are 37�42'25" N 89�13'10" W. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
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In Depoe Bay, Oregon, just south of where the phenomenon will first appear at 10:15 a.m. PDT (1715 GMT), thick fog shrouded the water on Monday morning, with the sun hidden behind a curtain of mist and clouds. Visitors had taken every parking space along the sea wall by 6 a.m.

Some 94 minutes after its debut, at 2:49 p.m. EDT (1849 GMT), totality will take its final bow near Charleston, South Carolina, where eclipse gazers on Monday morning were gathering atop the harbor's sea wall.

Officials said Charleston County's 16,000 hotel rooms were booked, and police expected up to 100,000 visitors to the area.

Nancy Conway, 57, an elementary school principal, said she made the long drive from Lynn, Massachusetts, with a car full of relatives.

"Twenty hours, three drivers, four adults, two 6-year-old twins," Conway said as she sat in a lawn chair facing the harbor. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

A number of towns within the total eclipse's path set up viewing parties. At the Southern Illinois University campus in Carbondale, Illinois, the 15,000-seat football stadium was sold out for Monday.

"I woke up at 4 a.m. so I'm excited," said Madeline Rubin, 17, who drove two hours to the stadium with others wearing T-shirts that said "I totally blacked out."

The last time such a spectacle unfolded from the Pacific to the Atlantic was in 1918. The last total eclipse seen anywhere in the United States took place in 1979.

For millions of others outside the zone of "totality," a partial eclipse of the sun will appear throughout North America if there is no local cloud cover, a spectacle that was expected to draw its own crowds.

In Washington, D.C., hundreds of people waited in long lines outside the National Air and Space Museum, which was distributing more than 20,000 pairs of free viewing glasses. Residents of the nation's capital will see 81 percent of the sun obscured at the eclipse's peak around 2:24 p.m.

FAMILY OUTINGS

Daniel Berger, 33, a software developer from New York, said he has been waiting with his wife and their two children for almost an hour.

"This is a far larger crowd than I anticipated," he said. "It's the first non-political attraction for D.C. in many years, so that's nice."

Perhaps never before have so many people had the opportunity to see a total eclipse, said cartographer Michael Zeiler, who maintains the www. greatamericaneclipse.com website and a self-described "eclipse chaser" who on Monday will mark his ninth time seeing "totality."

RELATED: Great American Eclipse: The view in each state

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Great American Eclipse: The view in each state
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Great American Eclipse: The view in each state

Alabama

Although not in the path of totality, Alabama sits just a short distance away from it. That means anywhere from 80 to 98 percent of the sun will be blocked by the moon. While it won't be safe to stare at the sun without glasses, it will become darker and potentially cooler for a short period of time around 1:30 in the afternoon. If you have a pair of good protective glasses and gaze skyward around that time, it will look like a huge bite has been taken out of the sun. 

Best places to watch: In the Northeast corner of the state, or head nearby to the southeast part of Tennessee to catch a view of totality.

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Alaska

Unfortunately Alaska does not get the best view of the Great American Eclipse. Only about 20 to 60 percent of the sun will be blocked, depending on which part of the state you live in, with folks in the southeast part of the state getting the better views. But for those who snag a pair of protective eclipse glasses, you'll be able to look at the sun and see about half of it disappear. 

Best places to watch: Head as far south and east as you can.

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Arizona

Arizonans won't get the country's best view of the eclipse, but they have a chance to see slightly darker skies as the moon appears to take a bite-sized chunk out of the sun. If you arm yourself with a serious pair of eclipse-friendly glasses, you'll be able to gaze up at the sun around 10:30 and see between 60 and 80 percent missing, depending on which part of the state you're in. 

Best places to watch: Head as far north and east as you can. If you've got time to drive across Utah or Colorado -- Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska are the closest states with views of totality. 

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Arkansas

Arkansans have some of the better eclipse views you can get without being in the path of totality. Folks in the north and east parts of the state can see as much as 96 percent of the sun blocked. That means a tiny glimmer of sun in the sky for anyone wearing good eclipse glasses, and darker and cooler conditions at a minimum for those who don't have access to eye protection and can't look directly at the sun. If you're further south and west, you'll still get a chance to see as much as 80 percent of the sun disappear. 

Best places to watch: Northeast corner of the state, or head to nearby Missouri, Kentucky or Tennessee to catch totality. 

(Photo by Nathan Benn/Corbis via Getty Images)

California

As anyone who lives there knows, California is a big state. This means that the eclipse views will vary pretty significantly depending on which part of the state you're in. If you're on the border with Oregon (which lies in the path of totality) you'll be able to see 90 percent of the sun blocked by the moon. That means cooler temperatures and a slightly darker sky than you're typically used to when the greatest eclipse happens around 10:15 in the morning local time. Closer to San Francisco only 75 percent of the sun will be blocked. In Los Angeles and further south it'll only be about 60 percent or so. But with the right pair of eclipse glasses you'll still be able to see quite the bite taken out of the sun. 

Best places to watch: Go north, or if you're adventurous, drive the rest of the way into Oregon (north of Bend or Eugene) to get the best shots. 

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Colorado

Coloradans get some pretty great views of the eclipse, despite being out of the path of totality. With 80 to 98 percent of the sun blocked at the time of greatest eclipse -- about 11:45 in the morning -- skies will definitely be darker and the midday heat should decline for a bit. Be sure to get a pair of good protective glasses if you want to stare directly at the sun, and you'll be treated to some pretty awe-inspiring views. 

Best places to watch: North and east parts of the state. The closer you are to Wyoming and Nebraska, the better. 

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Connecticut

Like many cities in the Northeast region of the United States, Connecticut has decent (but not spectacular) eclipse views. The best chance to see the sun disappear partially will be around 2:45 in the afternoon. If you have good glasses, you'll be able to look up and see about two-thirds of the sun disappear as the moon passes in front of it. 

Best places to watch: Head to the southwest part of the state. You'd have to drive hours and hours down I-95 to see totality, so check out a live stream on AOL.com instead to see the full view. 

(Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Delaware

More than three-quarters of the sun will be covered by the moon during the Great American Eclipse for folks watching from Delaware. With a good pair of protective glasses, you'll be able to look up around 2:45 in the afternoon and see most of the bottom of the sun blocked by the moon. 

Best places to watch: In the southern part of the state as much as 80 percent of the sun will be obscured. Catch a live stream on AOL.com to see totality. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Tim Shaffer)

Florida

The Sunshine State has some pretty great eclipse views for being outside the path of totality. Those best views will occur around 2:45 in the afternoon, when between 75 and 90 percent of the sun will be blocked by the moon. 

Best places to watch: Jacksonville or anywhere northeast of there. Or drive up to South Carolina or northeast Georgia for totality path views. 

(Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Georgia

With its northeast corner in the path of totality, Georgia is a great place to watch the Great American Eclipse. Even in the south and west parts of the state you'll be able to see upwards of 85 percent of the sun blocked by the moon around 2:45 in the afternoon, which means darker and cooler conditions for all and great views of the mostly-eaten sun for those wearing protective eyewear -- not unlike what you can see in this photo.  

Best places to watch: To catch totality, head north and east of Athens. Black Rock Mountain State Park will be right along the greatest path of totality, which means viewers will get upwards of two and a half minutes of total darkness. Head into South Carolina and up into Tennessee for even more totality spots. 

(Photo by Reza Fitriyanto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Hawaii

Sorry, Hawaiians. Your beaches and sunshine views are gorgeous, but you don't have the best eclipse views this time around. Between 20 and 30 percent of the sun will be blocked by the moon around 6:30 in the morning on eclipse day. That means you won't be able to see much without protective eyewear, but if you get some you'll be able to see a small chunk blocked by the moon. 

Best places to watch: Kauai gets a slightly better view, with about 30 percent blocked, compared to only 20 percent on the Big Island.  

(Photo by Risa Krisadhi/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Idaho

Congrats, Idahoans. You've got one of the best places to view the eclipse. The path of totality sweeps right across the center of the state, just north of Boise for those in the western part of the state and including Sun Valley and Idaho Falls for those further east. Anyone in the path of totality will be able to stare up at the sun without any protective eyewear to see the sun's corona -- called a "ring of fire" like in this image -- starting around 11:30 in the morning. Totality will last anywhere from one to two minutes, depending on where you are along the path, but if you want to watch the lead up, definitely invest in a pair of good protective eclipse glasses so you can watch as the moon creeps in front of the sun starting around 10:00 am. 

Best places to watch: Idaho Falls and Sun Valley are two of the bigger cities in the path of totality, but smaller locations like Stanley and Rexburg are close to the center of the totality path -- which means two-minute views of totality as opposed to only one-minute views on the outer borders. 

(Photo via Reuters)

Illinois

Chicago may be one of the best places to see Lake Michigan -- but on August 21, its one of the worst places in the state of Illinois to watch the eclipse. Southern Illinois is in the path of totality, which means folks in that part of the state get some of the best views. If you're up north and don't have the time to get further south, you'll still be able to get decent eclipse views -- with about 85 percent of the sun disappearing as the moon blocks it around 1:20 in the afternoon. Be sure to wear protective eyewear if you want to stare directly out it to see the leftover crescent, but if you don't have any, you'll likely notice darker skies and cooler temperatures at that time anywhere in the state. 

Best places to watch: Anywhere along the path of totality which stretches across the southern tip of the state. The views will be especially great in Carbondale, just a short distance from the point of "greatest duration," where the eclipse will last longer than anywhere else. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Jim Young)

Indiana

Indiana is just a short distance outside of the path of totality, which means lots of really great views across the state for people with protective eyewear. Between 80 and 99 percent of the sun will be obscured during peak coverage shortly after 2:15 in the afternoon (or 1:15 for the parts of the state in the Central Time Zone).

Best places to watch: Head to the southwest corner of the state or drive a little further into Kentucky or Illinois to enter the path of totality.

(Photo via Getty Images)

Iowa

A tiny chunk of land in the southwest corner of Iowa is part of the eclipse's path of totality, but most of the rest of the state will still have great views of the eclipse for anyone with a good pair of protective glasses. Residents across the rest of the state will enjoy anywhere from 85 to 99 percent obscuration -- which means temperatures will drop slightly and skies will darken shortly after 1 in the afternoon. 

Best places to watch: The place where the Missouri River meets the border with Missouri, or head a little further south for even longer views of totality. 

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Kansas

Kansas is one of the lucky handful of states that is in the path of totality. If you're in the northeast corner of the state you'll be able to catch views of totality, but the rest of the state will see at least 85 percent of the sun disappear behind the moon around 1 in the afternoon or just before. That means skies will be darker and temperatures will likely cool down briefly too. 

Best places to watch: Head to the northeast corner to catch totality.

(Photo by Donal Husni/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Kentucky

Kentucky falls in the path of totality, giving residents some great views of the eclipse. Anyone near Bowling Green or to the south or west will get to see the total eclipse -- with the sun fully blocked by the moon shortly before 1:30 in the afternoon. The rest of the state will see anywhere between 90 and 99 percent of the sun disappear around the same time, meaning skies will darken a bit and the temperature will drop some as well. 

Best places to watch: Head to the southwest corner of the state to catch totality. 

(Photo via Reuters)

Louisiana

Louisiana is too far south to fall along the path of totality, but there are still some solid views to be had. Between 60 and 85 percent of the sun will be blocked by the moon a little after 1 in the afternoon, depending on what part of the state you live in. With a good pair of protective glasses, skywatchers will be able to gaze up at the sun to see the moon "take a bite" out of it. 

Best places to watch: To see a bigger "bite" taken out of the sun, head north.

(Photo by Derick E. Hingle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Maine

Maine's northeast position in the lower 48 states does not give it the best view of the eclipse that tracks from the Pacific Northwest down to the Southeastern part of the country, but that doesn't mean the views are the worst. Depending on which part of the state you live in the moon will block between 50 and 60 percent of the sun around 2:45 in the afternoon. If you have a good pair of protective glasses, you'll be able to watch. 

Best places to watch: Head to the southwest corner of the state -- or catch the live stream on AOL.com. 

(Photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Maryland

Marylanders can have good, but not quite spectacular views of the eclipse. With a good pair of protective glasses, you'll be able to peer up skyward around 2:45 in the afternoon and see about 80 percent of the sun blocked by the moon. 

Best places to watch: There isn't a significant difference in obscuration across the state, so almost anywhere is a good place to be. Both the western corners and southeast areas along the Chesapeake Bay are your best bets. Or catch the AOL.com live stream to see totality.  

(Photo via REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Massachusetts

Like many of the smaller states in the Northeast U.S., the views don't change drastically across Massachusetts. About 65 percent of the sun will blocked by the moon around 2:45 in the afternoon, and you'll be able to see that bite disappear if you're wearing a good pair of protective glasses

Best places to watch: Generally speaking, go south, but the view won't change drastically. Watch a live stream to check out totality.  

(Photo via REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Michigan

Folks in Michigan will be able to see a significant view of the eclipse this year, depending on which part of the state they live in. Anywhere from 70 to 85 percent of the sun will be blocked by the moon a little after 2:15 in the afternoon. Wear a good pair of protective eclipse glasses and you'll be able to stare right up at the sun. 

Best places to watch: The best views will be in the southern part of the state, where obscuration will be closer to 85 percent, possibly meaning cooler temperatures and noticeably darker skies. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

Minnesota

Minnesotans get some great eclipse views. Between 70 and 90 percent of the sun will be blocked by the moon around 1 in the afternoon. With a good pair of eclipse glasses you'll be able to look up at the sun to see the chunk disappear. 

Best places to watch: The southwest corner will be your best bet, where obscuration will hit 90 percent and skies will likely seem noticeably darker. 

(Photo via Getty Images)

Mississippi

Despite being outside the path of totality, Mississippi is a great place to see the eclipse -- especially for folks in the northern parts of the state. The darkest skies will be visible a little before 1:30 in the afternoon, when the moon will block anywhere between 75 and 95 percent of the sun, depending on which part of the state you are in.  Be sure to wear a good pair of protective glasses if you plan to stare up at the sun. 

Best places to watch: The northeast corner of the state is your best bet. That's where obscuration will hit 95 percent and even people without glasses will be able to sense slightly darker skies and cooler temperatures. 

(Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Missouri

Congrats, Missouri! With a prime location in the path of totality, Missouri is one of the best places in the entire country to see the eclipse. No matter where you are in the state at least 90 percent of the sun will be blocked around 1:15 in the afternoon, meaning slightly darker skies and cooler temperatures. And for those in the path of totality, you'll be able to look up at the sun and see the magical "ring of fire" even without glasses, but definitely wear them to watch the lead up at the moon slowly makes its way in front of the sun. 

Best places to watch: The path of totality starts in the northwest corner -- stretching as far south as Kansas City --and then sweeps down to the southeast of the state stretching from St. Louis to Cape Girardeau. Anywhere in that band will provide stellar views. 

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Montana

While the majority of land in Montana is too far north to be in the path of totality, a tiny chunk of the state near Scott Peak is in the path and will offer a full view of the total solar eclipse around 11:30 in the morning. For anyone further north, you'll still see between 80 and 99 percent of the sun disappear at the same time, as the moon passes in front of it. Make sure to wear a good pair of eclipse glasses if you want to gaze up to see the sliver of sun. 

Best places to watch: The southern tip near Scott Peak on the border with Idaho if you want to see totality, or anywhere south otherwise. Or just make the drive to Idaho or Wyoming for even more chances of catching totality. 

(Photo by William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images)

Nebraska

With a prime spot right smack in the middle of the path of totality, Nebraskans have some of the best views of the eclipse in the country. The best views will happen either shortly before noon or before 1 in the afternoon, depending on which time zone you're in. For those outside the path of totality, you'll still be able to see at least 95 percent of the sun blocked by the sun around the same time, meaning slightly darker skies and cooler temperatures, and cool views of only a sliver of sun for anyone with a good pair of protective glasses

Best places to watch: Anywhere in the path of totality, which includes a number of towns and cities along route 80 between North Platte and Lincoln.  

(Photo via REUTERS/Beawiharta)

Nevada

The views of the eclipse across the state of Nevada will vary widely based on what part of the state you're in. Being outside the path of totality, proper eclipse viewing glasses will be a must for anyone looking to stare up to see part of the sun disappear. For those in the north, you'll be able to see nearly 95 percent of the sun obscured by the moon. In the southern parts that'll drop to closer to 70 percent. 

Best places to watch: Head north and bring a good pair of protective eclipse glasses. In the uppermost parts of the state you'll be able to experience slightly darker skies and cooler temperatures.  

(Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

New Hampshire

New Hampshire, like much of the Northeast, isn't close enough to the path of totality to offer great views. With a good pair of eclipse glasses or other protective eyewear, you'll be able to see the moon obscure around 60 percent of the sun around 2:45 in the afternoon. 

Best places to watch: The further south you go, the more of the sun you'll be able to see obscured, but your best chance at a great view will probably be the live stream on AOL.com. 

(Photo via Getty Images)

New Jersey

As with other Northeast states, New Jersey has decent but not amazing eclipse views. Between 70 and 80 percent of the sun will be blocked by the moon around 2:45 in the afternoon. Make sure to wear a good pair of protective glasses if you want to stare directly at the sun. 

Best places to watch: The further south you go, the more of the sun will be blocked, so head south! Or watch the live stream on AOL.com.  

(Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

New Mexico

New Mexico is a bit too far south of the path of totality to offer spectacular views, but folks will still be able to see a decent chunk of the sun disappear around 11:45 in the morning. The moon will obscure between about 60 and 80 percent of the sun, depending on which part of the state you're in. With a good pair of protective eclipse glasses you'll be able to stare directly at the sun to see the bite-sized chunk disappear, but it won't look quite like this picture, which was taken during a recent annular eclipse that passed through New Mexico in 2012. 

Best places to watch: Head north to catch obscuration levels closer to 80 percent. Or watch the AOL.com live stream.  

(Photo via REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

New York

Like much of the Northeast, New Yorkers don't get amazing views of the eclipse, but at least half the sun will disappear behind the moon a little after 2:30 in the afternoon. The percent of obscuration will vary between 55 and 75 percent, depending on which part of the state you're in, but with a good pair of protective eclipse glasses you'll be able to look up and see the chunk of the sun disappear. 

Best places to watch: Generally, south is better. Either the southwest corner of the state or New York City will have the best sun blockage. And for full views of totality you can watch the live stream on AOL.com. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)

North Carolina

With a spot in the path of totality, North Carolina is one of the better places in the country to watch the eclipse. If you're in the southwest part of the state you'll be able to see the entire sun disappear behind the moon -- AKA "totality" -- a little before 2:30. For folks outside of that area, you'll still get some pretty cool views starting around the same time, since at least 85 percent of the sun will be obscured by the moon. If you want to see the leftover sun sliver, be sure to wear a good pair of protective glasses

Best places to watch: Head to the southwest corner of the state to see totality! 

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

North Dakota

North Dakota sits just a short distance north of the path of totality, offering some good views of the partial eclipse. Between about 75 and 90 percent of the sun will be blocked out by the moon at the maximum point, which occurs a little before noon for people in the Mountain Time Zone and 1 in the afternoon for those in the Central Time Zone. If you want to stare directly up to see that sliver of remaining sun, you'll need a good pair of protective glasses

Best places to watch: The further south you are, the closer you'll be to the path of totality. That means more of the sun will be blocked out and you'll potentially experience slightly cooler temperatures and darker skies. 

(Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Ohio

Ohio doesn't lie in the path of totality -- which means folks won't be able to see the full eclipse there, but you will be able to see some good partial eclipse views. The moon will block between about 75 and 90 percent of the sun around 2:30 in the afternoon. That means you'll need to wear protective glasses if you want to see it. 

Best places to watch: Anywhere in the southwest corner of the state near Cincinnati. 

(Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Oklahoma

Oklahoma has some great views of the eclipse despite being outside the path of totality. The moon will block anywhere between 78 and 93 percent of the sun around 1:00 in the afternoon. If you have a good pair of protective eclipse glasses you'll be able to stare directly up at the sun to see it happen.  

Best places to watch: The northeast corner of the state.

(Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

Oregon

By some accounts, Oregon is the best place in the entire United States to watch the eclipse. It's the first place in the country with eclipse views, including a prime view of totality. The only risk? Local officials are already warning folks to be aware that traffic could be impossible. If you're stuck outside the totality zone, make sure you have a good pair of protective eclipse glasses so you can see more than 90 percent of the sun disappear at the same time -- around 10 in the morning. 

Best places to watch: Depoe Bay on the western coast has been called "ground zero" for the eclipse, since it will be the first spot in the nation to get a view of totality. Salem is also in the path of totality as well. But the further east you are, the longer totality will last. 

(Photo via Reuters)

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanians have pretty good views of the eclipse, but not the most amazing ones in the country. Between about 70 and 85 percent of the sun will be blocked by the moon around 2:30 in the afternoon. You'll definitely need a good pair of protective eclipse glasses if you want to stare up at the sun to see the sliver that will remain as the moon casts a shadow. 

Best places to watch: The further south and west you are, the better the views will be -- especially close to Pittsburgh.  

(Photo via REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Rhode Island

Like many other Northeast states, Rhode Island isn't the best place to watch this year's eclipse. But because it's a relatively small region, the views will be the same basically everywhere, with about 65 percent of the sun disappearing behind the moon around 2:45 in the afternoon. Folks who want to stare up directly at the sun then to see the bite-sized chunk of sun disappear should be sure to wear a good pair of protective eclipse glasses

Best places to watch: There's no significant different across much of the state, so check out the live stream on AOL.com to see better views instead.  

(Photo by Reza Fitriyanto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

South Carolina

South Carolina is one of two coastal states in the country with a spot in the path of totality, which means folks there are expecting a big influx of travelers and bad traffic to catch the stellar views of the eclipse. The sun will be fully blocked by the moon for more than a full minute anywhere in the path of totality a little before 2:45 in the afternoon. If you're outside that region, you'll want a good pair of protective eclipse glasses to see more than 97 percent of the sun disappear -- but fortunately, because of how small the state is and how wide the path of totality is, there's almost not a bad spot in the entire state. 

Best places to watch: The path of totality includes three of the bigger cities in the state -- Greenville, Columbia and Charleston -- but technically the eclipse lasts slightly longer the further north and west you are.  

(Photo by RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)

South Dakota

South Dakota is outside the path of totality, but close enough to it to offer some really good eclipse views. Depending on which part of the state you're in, you'll see anywhere between about 85 and 99 percent of the sun disappear behind the moon. That happens a little after 11:45 in the morning in the part of the state in the Mountain Time Zone and a little close to 1 in the afternoon in the part of the state Central Time Zone. Either way, folks will want a good pair of eclipse glasses to see the coolest views. 

Best places to watch: Head to the southwest corner of the state to see more than 95 percent of the sun disappear, which will mean slightly cooler temperatures and darker skies even for those without the glasses. 

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Tennessee

As one of the 15 states with a spot in the path of totality, Tennessee is another amazing place to watch the eclipse. Areas in that path will offer great views, but outside of the area -- either near Memphis or in the northeast corner of the state -- folks will still be able to see as much as 95 percent of the sun disappear behind the moon shortly after 1:15 in the afternoon or closer to 2:30. The time will change based on which time zone you're in, but you can expect slightly darker skies and cooler temperatures at that point anywhere. 

Best places to watch: The path of totality sweeps from the north of the state across Nashville, tracking south and east right between Chattanooga and Knoxville. Anywhere in that area is a good place to be. 

(Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Texas

Texas isn't the best place to watch the eclipse, as it's a little too far south of the path of totality, but anyone with a good pair of eclipse glasses will be able to see between 50 and 80 percent of the sun disappear behind the moon depending on which part of the state you're in. Most of the state is in the Central Time Zone, so the best views will occur around 1 in the afternoon, but if you're in the Mountain Time Zone, head outside a little before noon instead with your glasses. 

Best places to watch: The further north you are, the more of the sun will disappear behind the moon.  

But don't worry, Texans, you get a much better view of the next big eclipse to sweep across America, coming in April 2024. 

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Utah

Utah has some pretty decent views of the eclipse despite its position outside the path of totality. Between 75 and 95 percent of the sun will disappear behind the moon around 11:30 in the morning, and you can stare directly up at the sun to see it with a good pair of eclipse glasses

Best places to watch: The further north you are, the better the views will be. Anywhere north of Salt Lake City is likely to be able to experience slightly cooler temperatures and darker skies during the greatest point of obscuration. 

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Vermont

Like most of the Northeast, the views in Vermont are okay, but far from stellar. Folks will be able to see anywhere between about 55 and 65 percent of the sun disappear behind the moon a little after 2:30 in the afternoon. But you'll definitely need a pair of good protective eclipse glasses if you want to stare directly at the sun.

Best places to watch: The further south you are, the better the views will be, but you'll probably want to catch the live stream on AOL.com for the best views. 

(Photo by STEFFI LOOS/AFP/Getty Images)

Virginia

Virginia is a pretty good place to catch the eclipse, despite being outside the path of totality. Between 80 and 98 percent of the sun will disappear behind the moon a little after 2:30 in the afternoon, depending on which part of the state you're in.  But if you want to stare directly at the sun to catch the view, you'll need a good pair of protective eclipse glasses

Best places to watch: The best place to catch the eclipse is in the southwest corner of the state. Anywhere south or west of Blacksburg will have 95 percent obscuration, which means skies will likely get slightly darker and temperatures may even feel a little cooler. 

(Photo by RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)

Washington

With a spot a short distance north of the path of totality, Washington is one of the better states to catch the partial views of the eclipse. You'll be able to see the moon block at least 85 percent of the sun from any part of the state a little after 10:15 in the morning, and that gets even better the closer you get to Oregon. But you'll need protective eyewear to look directly at the sun no matter where you are in the state. 

Best places to watch: The best spots will be along the border with Oregon, where obscuration will be close to 98 percent. 

(Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

West Virginia

West Virginia is a good place to check out views of the eclipse, despite being outside the path of totality. The moon will block between about 85 and 93 percent of the sun anywhere in the state a little after 2:30 in the afternoon, but you'll need good protective eclipse glasses if you want to look straight up at the sun. 

Best places to watch: The further south you are, the better the views will be -- especially along the border with Virginia where 90-percent obscuration means you could be able to detect slightly cooler temperatures and darker skies even without eyewear that would allow you to stare at the sun. 

(Photo by Pradita Utana/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a pretty good view of the eclipse, despite being outside the path of totality. The moon will block between about 75 and 87 percent of the sun a little after 1 in the afternoon. You'll need to get a pair of eclipse glasses if you want to stare up at the sun to see the remaining sliver. 

Best places to watch: The further south and west you are, the better the views will be. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

Wyoming

One of more than a dozen states in the path of totality, Wyoming is a great place to catch the eclipse. Regardless of what part of the state you're in, you'll be able to see no less than 92 percent of the sun disappear behind the moon around 11:45 in the morning, but if you are outside the path of totality you'll need protective eclipse glasses in order to stare directly at the sun.

Best places to watch: The path of totality stretches Grand Teton National Park and across the state through Casper before it hits Nebraska. Anywhere in that zone you'll be able to enjoy the amazing sights of totality. 

(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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Weeks of publicity have fanned excitement, he said, and may have persuaded many families to make last-minute road trip plans.

Zeiler estimates that up to 7.4 million people will travel to the zone to observe the total eclipse, which takes place in the peak vacation month of August.

Many people have trekked to remote national forests and parks of Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming. Those who live along the path, which cuts through a few population centers like Kansas City, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, can simply walk out their homes and look skyward.

For those who live too far from the shadow's path or cannot escape the indoors, a NASA-linked website, eclipse.stream.live, and a companion mobile app will provide a live stream filmed from the vantage point of 50 helium-filled balloons at a height of 80,000 feet (24,384 meters).

The sun's disappearing act is just part of the show. As the black orb of the moon nibbles away at the sun's face, the heavens dim to a quasi-twilight and some stars and planets will be visible.

The last glimmer of sun gives way to a momentary sparkle known as the "diamond ring" effect just before the sun slips completely behind the moon, leaving only the aura of its outer atmosphere, or corona, visible in the darkness.

The corona, lasting just two minutes, marks the peak phase of totality and the only stage of the eclipse safe to view with the naked eye.

(Additional reporting by Jane Ross in Depoe Bay, Oregon; Brian Snyder in Carbondale, Illinois; Ian Simpson in Washington, D.C.; and Irene Klotz in Murphy, North Carolina; Writing by Frank McGurty and Joseph Ax; Editing by Bill Trott)

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