Science enthusiasts already making plans for 2017’s total solar eclipse

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Science enthusiasts are excited for what some are calling the biggest astronomical event in recent history. Well, at least in the past 38 years.

A total solar eclipse, that's when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, is set to pass over the United States for the first time in nearly four decades, and those science enthusiasts are so excited, they're preparing for it an entire year in advance.

The eclipse will happen on Monday, August 21, 2017. And to be more precise, for folks here in the metro, it will start around 11:40 a.m., reaching the maximum eclipse at 1:06 ap.m. and lasting around 2 and a half minutes.

Astronomers say that for an eclipse that traversed the entire United States like the one coming next year, you'd have to go back even farther than the one in 1979. The last time an eclipse passed the entire U.S. dates back to the 14th century.

For an event like this, some have already planned to take their kids out of school to go to eclipse viewing parties and events. And for science teachers out there, we hope you're already planning a special day for your students.

Joseph Wright with UMKC's Warkoczewski Public Observatory discussed the eclipse's path or totality.

"That path is only about 75 to 80 miles wide, and that represents where it will be totally blocked out. Once you get outside that boundary, you'll have a partial eclipse," Wright said. "There are places across the country that are setting up for this event all along that path. Hotels are filling up fast."

NASA's map shows the eclipse's path of totality.

"Every part of the country is gonna have some part of the eclipse. Whether its total or partial, every place in North America is gonna be able to see," Wright explained.

Millions of people are expected to try for a prime spot inside that line of totality, which runs just north of Kansas City through Liberty and St. Joseph.

FOX 4's Carey Wickersham got her hands on some special viewing glasses that allow you to look at the sun without damaging your eyes.