Your ancestors might have thought it was a harbinger of death, but thankfully, in 2017, a solar eclipse is nothing more than a good reason to go stare mindlessly up at the sky during your lunch break at work and tweet memes about the end of the world. There is no opportunity as prime as Monday, Aug. 21, the U.S. will experience its first total solar eclipse since 1979. Naturally, many are wondering what the best states to see the solar eclipse in 2017 are — for good reason, because some seats to this show are decidedly better than others.
While the entire U.S. will be able to see the spectacle of the moon blocking the sun, only a few states will see a genuine, total eclipse. Those states are in what is called the "path of totality," which tracks the Moon's umbra shadow as it journeys across the country. In this case, the path of totality extends from the Northwest of the U.S., starting in Oregon, down to the Southeast, ending in South Carolina. States that aren't included in the path of totality will still be able to view the phenomenon as a partial eclipse, but it won't be nearly as dramatic as it will be in the prime locations.
Here is an image that shows the direct line of the path of totality, and a few major cities that fall within it.
States that are on the path of totality include Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Below is a video that tracks it with more detail:
It is important to note that being among the states on the path of totality does not mean you will experience total darkness in the eclipse; you have to be within the range of the path shown on the map. Someone in Nashville, Tennessee, for instance, will see approximately two minutes of total darkness, while someone in Memphis, Tennessee will view as an almost full, but partial eclipse. The further you are in the U.S. from the path of totality, the more "partial" that eclipse will appear.
Your best bet to seeing the true effect of a "total eclipse" is to get yourself within that line of totality, but if you don't already have plans, you'd better get on them now; major cities on the path of totality are already anticipating an influx of millions of visitors attempting to see the eclipse in its full glory. Regardless of where you decide to watch it from on Monday, make sure you're properly equipped with solar eclipse viewers — while it's safe to look at the sun while it is fully eclipsed, protection is necessary during the times when it is only partially eclipsed to prevent damage to your eyes.
If you're in the path of totality or near it, you can check out more details about the timing of the eclipse in your area here.