Could the Moon be about to break the internet? This year our satellite’s slightly tilted orbit just happens to coincide exactly with the Sun to cause that rarest of natural events: a Total Solar Eclipse.

On Aug. 21, 2017, America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse.

The so-called Great American Total Solar Eclipse will darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide. People who descend upon this “path of totality” for the big event are in for an unforgettable experience.

Here is Space.com’s complete guide to the 2017 total solar eclipse. It includes information about where and when to see ithow long it lastswhat you can expect to see, and how to plan ahead to ensure you get the most out of this incredible experience.

Update for Aug. 14: We are officially ONE WEEK away from the 2017 solar eclipse ! Check out the best interactive solar eclipse maps we’ve found here. | Weather and Traffic Guide | The Best ISO-Certified Gear to See the 2017 Solar Eclipse | Plus: Complete Solar Eclipse Coverage

REMEMBER: During totality, when the sun’s disk is completely covered by the moon, it is safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye. But skywatchers should NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness. See our complete guide to find out how to view the eclipse safely.

Photographing a close-up of totality is a technical feat. Credit: Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel

 

How to practice photographing the eclipse

That’s the crux of the matter; first-time eclipse-chasers probably shouldn’t photograph the eclipse, but they will anyway. So plan to practice well in advance of August 21. “If you shoot in twilight right after sunset you have a very similar sky to what you will have during totality, give or take,” .

That’s about 20 minutes after sunset; all you need is a clear sky. “It’s good for seeing how your camera behaves, and what your camera’s auto exposure and auto focus are actually doing – it’s a great rehearsal window for eclipses.”

If you mess it up, no worries; there’s only 680 days to wait until the next total solar eclipse in South America.