Watch out, folks. Literarily! With the correct eye protection, watch the skies for the eclipse. Grab the kids, don a pair of specially made, dark eclipse glasses (be sure the little ones are wearing them too) and share with them this heavenly phenomenon which is about to occur. You may not be here to see another.

On Aug. 21, the afternoon suddenly darkens and turns into night. A total eclipse of the sun that can be seen in America will transpire. Visible from within a narrow corridor, it will cross the continental United States in a path composed of a 71-mile wide band produced by the moon's umbral shadow. Commencing in the northern Pacific, it will finish in the southern Atlantic.

Starting about 10:15 a.m., the eclipse will cross the nation through parts of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. For the rest of us, however, the moon's penumbral shadow generates a partial eclipse visible from a larger area covering most of North America.

In our area, the moon begins its journey across the sun’s path at 1:06 p.m. By 2:30 p.m., about 80 percent of the eclipse will have taken place.

A solar eclipse occurs whenever the moon passes between the earth and the sun, thereby totally or partially obscuring the image of the sun for us here on earth. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon's apparent diameter is larger than the sun's, blocking all direct sunlight and turning the day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across earth's surface, with a partial eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of miles wide.

The longest duration of total darkness will be 2 minutes, 41.6 seconds in a path that crosses Giant City State Park just south of Carbondale, Ill.

A partial solar eclipse will be seen from the much broader path of the moon's penumbra, including all of North America, northern South America, western Europe and Africa.

This eclipse will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States mainland since the solar eclipse of July 11, 1991, which was seen only from parts of Hawaii, and the first visible eclipse from the contiguous United States since February 26, 1979. That path of darkness passed only through the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota.

This eclipse will be the first with a path of total darkness crossing the nation from the Pacific coast to its Atlantic coast since 1918. Also, its path of total darkness makes landfall exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse since the country's independence in 1776. A solar eclipse’s path of totality on June 13, 1257, was the last to make landfall exclusively on lands that are currently part of the U.S.

For those who are hankering to view a total eclipse and not just a partial one such as what will be seen here in Northeast Ohio, you may travel to Carbondale or Goreville in Illinois; Hopkinsville or Bowling Green in Kentucky; Clarksville, Nashville or Cookeville in Tennessee; Bryson City or Rosman in North Carolina; or Greenville, Long Creek or Columbia in South Carolina.

A warning, however. Looking directly at the eclipse for even a short amount of time can bring great risk to permanently damaging your eyesight. Sunglasses, welders glasses, smoke glass or any eye covering thought to shade the eyes, including CDs or DVDs, will not protect them. Only special eclipse glasses can save your eyesight. They can be obtained at most libraries until they run out. Protect your eyesight. You only get it once.

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