With all the brouhaha surrounding the eclipse today, don't be embarrassed if you can't quite figure out when the last eclipse was.  It all depends on what kind of an eclipse you're talking about and where it was actually visible.

There have been 14 total solar eclipses between the one in 1918 and the one today. Of those, only 6 were even partially visible in the U.S.--1923, 1925, 1932, 1940, 1970, and 1979.

The eclipse today is historic because it's the first time since 1918 that a total eclipse has traversed the entire width of the U.S.  The eclipse's path through the country will enter Oregon a little after 10am Pacific time and will exit South Carolina just after 3pm Eastern time.

The path where totality will be visible is only about 70 miles wide and will cross through Oregon, Idaho, a tiny sliver of Montana, then through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and, finally, South Carolina.

The longest view of totality will be in tiny Makanda, Illinois--population 547, "Sa-lute!"-- where the sun will be completely occluded for 2 minutes and 43 seconds.  That's the epicenter to where thousands of Americans have flocked for today's phenomenon. Hotel rooms in the area are said to be going for $1500 a night, and they're all booked.

As for us here in the Ark-La-Tex, about 78% of the sun will be covered by the moon. Having seen one or two partial solar eclipses in my day, I can tell you it's an eerie site. (It's no wonder people in ancient times thought the gods were bringing calamity upon them.)  The eclipse will start around 11:45am and end around 2:45pm.  The peak time will be around 1:15 this afternoon.  And remember, DON'T LOOK AT THE ECLIPSE WITH THE NAKED EYE!  You'll put your eyes out.

As people do for momentous occasions like this, I've picked three songs that I think would make the perfect soundtrack for viewing the eclipse today.


1. Moon Shadow by Cat Stevens.  The opening line says it all, "Oh, I'm being followed by a moon shadow..."


2. Sunshine by Jonathan Edwards.  Again, it's all about the opening lyric: "Sunshine go away today..."


3. Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden.  Can't think of a better description of what the sun looks like during an eclipse.  And the song's just plain eerie and entrancing, which makes it perfect for the event.