Countdown to Heartland Eclipse 2017: Why it's rare

(KFVS) - We are counting down to the total eclipse on August 21.

Let's talk about why this is such a rare event.

To be a total solar eclipse, the moon must be directly in front of the sun. That happens on average about every 18 months.

The shadow made by the moon on the earth is called the path of totality.

With the eclipse on Aug. 21, the shadow will start in the North Atlantic, cross the United States and end in the Atlantic ocean just off the coast of Africa. This shadow, where the sun is completely blocked by the moon, is only about 60 miles wide.

Much of our viewing area will be in that 60-mile path.

The closer you are to the center of the event, the longer the sun will be blocked by the moon.

Between Makanda, Illinois and Hopkinsville, Kentucky is the center of the eclipse, where the moon will block the sun the longest; for 2 minutes and 41 seconds.

For comparison, the eclipse will only last 2 minutes on the coast of Oregon and 2 minutes and 30 seconds on the beaches of South Carolina.

You can click here for more information including maps and times about the total solar eclipse.

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