The phenomenon doesn't happen often in North America.

But in less than a month, folks around the United States will be able to witness a solar eclipse.

On Monday, August 21, the solar eclipse will begin in our area at roughly 11:53 am and will last in some form for about three hours.  In the Lafayette area, we will see about 73% of the sun blocked by the moon.  The maximum of 73% will last for a few minutes.

The eclipse will be available in some form in every state.  Some will get about 20% and some will get totality.  And, the totality (or close to it) will happen in quite a few major cities in the country.  Salem, OR, Boise, ID, Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta and Charleston, SC are all going to get a high percentage.  And in a few of those cities, the sun will disappear entirely, albeit for just a couple of minutes.  In those areas, temps will drop as much as 20 degrees.

I can remember a couple of instances where a good portion of the eclipse was visible from my location.  Once in New England when I was a kid and again in the 80's here in Lafayette.

Solar eclipses happen rather frequently around the world, but they aren't always visible in the US.  There will be more instances in the next 35 years or so where even more of the sun will be blocked than will be this go-round.

If you want to participate, now is the time to plan.

It is VERY dangerous to try to look directly at the sun during an eclipse, EVEN WITH NORMAL SUNGLASSES.  But there are places where you can order approved sunglasses pretty cheap.  Or, you can do what we did when we were younger and use the indirect method, where you take two pieces of paper, punch a hole in one and get the shadow on the other piece.  Pretty primitive in today's world, but it works.

Here's a site where you can type in anyone's zip code and see how much of the eclipse will be visible and when.  There's also more info from NASA about those special glasses as well.

Have fun.  But be safe.