A 'once-in-a-century' solar eclipse happens this time next year


Minnesota – and, indeed, the rest of America – will be treated to a rare solar eclipse a year from today.

The solar eclipse – which has been dubbed the "Great American Eclipse" – will be visible across the continental United States, and will be total along a line that stretches from Oregon in the northwest, to North Carolina in the southeast, NASA says.

The eclipse has been known about for a while, naturally, but is in the news this weekend given we are 12 months to the day it happens – and Space.com has explained why it is particularly rare.

The U.S. mainland saw its last total eclipse on Feb. 26, 1979, but next year's will be the first time in 99 years the eclipse is "readily available to people from coast-to-coast."

What about Minnesota?

As the map shows, Minnesota is not in the path of the total eclipse, with Eclipse2017.org estimating Minnesotans will be able to see the moon covering 83 percent of the sun from the Twin Cities.

It is expected to start just after 11:40 a.m. on Aug. 21, reach its peak around 1:05 p.m. and end at about 2:30 p.m.

As it's only a partial eclipse in Minnesota, star-gazers will need eye protection filters if you want to take a look.

Book now to see total eclipse

If you want to take a drive to see the total eclipse, Nebraska or Missouri are probably your best bets. Space.com points out that roughly 12 million Americans live in the path of the eclipse, but 220 million live within a day's drive (500 miles) of the totality zone.

And if you do plan on making the trip, you might want to start booking now. The Orange County Register reports the eclipse is "attracting the attention of the entire world" with people expected to fly in to watch the first total eclipse in decades.

Calls made to hotels in Idaho Falls, the largest city in the path of the eclipse, this past June reveal they had all been booked out 14 months in advance, the newspaper notes.

The Republic reports meanwhile that officials in Teton County, Wyoming, are already setting up management plans as they expected 40,000 tourists to arrive in Jackson Hole next summer – many of whom will camp illegally.

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Partial solar eclipse at sunset Sunday

Viewers in parts of the South and West might get a better view, but a partial eclipse of the sun will be visible -- weather permitting -- in Minnesota beginning after 7 p.m. Sunday until it sets at roughly 8:40 p.m. But don't look directly at it! Columnist and local amateur astronomer Mike Lynch has a helpful diagram of how to watch the event using the pinhole projection method.

Heat-activated postage stamps have arrived just in time for the solar eclipse

If we can't see the full eclipse in-person, at least we have these stamps.

Find out what type of solar eclipse you'll see on Aug. 21

Some people will get the total eclipse experience. But not everyone.