This animation from NASA shows the path of totality that can be expected for the NATIONAL ECLIPSE on August 21, 2017. To fully experience a total solar eclipse, you must be located within the center shadow of the path.
During a total solar eclipse, anyone within the narrow central shadow of the Moon, called the umbra, experiences totality. Within the much wider outside shadow, the penumbra, the Sun is only partially obscured.
An eclipse can only occur during a New Moon. Because the Moon's orbit around the Earth is tilted, not every New Moon results in an eclipse. This NASA animation shows how everything needs to line up just right in 2017.
In the most accurate visualization of an eclipse path to date, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center shows that the Moon's shadow isn't a smooth oval, but a polygon with a jagged, irregular edge.
The last total solar eclipse before the NATIONAL ECLIPSE occurred on March 8/9, 2016, when parts of Indonesia were plunged into darkness. Hawaii and most of Alaska saw a partial eclipse.
On September 27, 2015, millions witnessed a supermoon lunar eclipse. This animation from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center explains what a supermoon is, how a lunar eclipse occurs, and how rare this really is.
MORE ANIMATIONS COMING SOON!