OK, you’ve got your solar glasses.
You’ve picked your viewing spot.
Now, with the approach of the first total solar eclipse to cross the breadth of the U.S. in 99 years — darkening the midday sun on Monday, Aug. 21 — one piece of advice:
Don’t look away.
Or, if you do, do so only briefly, as taking in the eclipse in its totality, meaning when the moon totally covers the face of the sun, could be over in a handful of seconds if you’re on the edge of the path of totality.
Remember, the entire spectacle — from the time the moon first inches toward the face of the sun to the time it leaves the face of the sun — will take close to three hours.
But the total eclipse, the time when you can take off your solar glasses and see blackness covering the sun, depends on your location.
The eclipse will go into totality in the Kansas City area shortly after 1 p.m. The longest duration will be experienced along the center line of the path of totality, which is the midpoint of the moon’s 70-mile-wide shadow on Earth.
St. Joseph, which lies virtually on top of the center line, will get a total eclipse lasting an estimated 2 minutes 38 seconds. (The U.S. city that will have the longest duration, according to NASA, is Carbondale, Ill., at 2 minutes 43 seconds.
Stray farther north or south while remaining in the path of totality, and you’ll still see a total eclipse, but it will last a shorter time. At Kansas City’s City Hall, for example, you can expect a total eclipse between 15 seconds and a half-minute.
A good way to check how long the totality will last is to check an online map such as the one at http://xjubier.free.fr/tse2017map. Type your location and the map will tell you if your viewing spot is within the 70-mile path and how long you’re likely to view totality.
One caution: The online maps are not completely accurate along the edges, so it’s advisable to get closer to the center line.
In Blue Springs, you could expect to see 50 seconds or so of total eclipse.
In Independence; Lansing, Kan.; Parkville: 1 minute to 1 minute 29 seconds.
In Gladstone, Leavenworth: 1:30 to 1:59.
In Atchison, Kan.; Excelsior Springs; Liberty; Platte City; St. Joseph; Smithville; Weston: 2 minutes or more.
Areas outside the path of totality, such as south Kansas City, Olathe, Overland Park, Raytown, Lee’s Summit, Grandview and other locales, will experience a partial eclipse, but not a total solar eclipse.