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Total solar eclipse: Everything you need to know

Jenni Maier

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Jenni Maier

Jenni Maier is a blog editor living in New York City. More than anything else in the world, she wants a dog. She's jealous of North West's fashion sense and is still upset Tatiana Maslany wasn't nominated for an Emmy. Her goal this year ...

All your total solar eclipse questions answered in one place

There's a total solar eclipse happening this Friday. A what kind of solar eclipse? Don't worry, we have the answer to that question and every other possible question you'll have about what's going down in the sky. So sit back, relax and prepare to learn a lot.

What exactly is a solar eclipse?

To quote the much smarter Space.com:

"A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth. A solar eclipse can only take place at the phase of new moon, when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth and its shadows fall upon Earth's surface."

OK, I follow. Why is this one a total solar eclipse?

Because the moon completely covers the sun. Aka total darkness.

Can you rephrase it in a way that I can repeat to my kids?

Oh yes, sorry. A total solar eclipse is when the sun hides behind the moon and everything goes dark.

When is this happening?

This Friday, March 20. The magic starts at approximately 4 a.m. EST.

Will I be able to see it?

You'll only be able to see the total eclipse if you live in Northern Europe. However, all of Europe, parts of western Asia and parts of northern Africa will be able to see a partial eclipse.

Ugh, what's an eclipse-loving American supposed to do?

Stay calm, and get on social media. It will be all over there. Specifically, I'd suggest following Mashable — they're actually sending their travel editor to capture the eclipse in the Faroe Islands. (Don't Google. The Faroe Islands are part of the Kingdom of Denmark, located between Norway and Iceland.)

I don't want to wait. Where can I see one right now?

You're welcome, Veruca Salt.

Can looking at one really make me go blind?

Yes. You should never look directly at a solar eclipse. Just a few seconds can cause permanent damage, and that damage does include blindness. Check out more on how to view it safely right here.

When's the next one happening?

The next total solar eclipse will be in March 2016 — but still not visible from the United States. The next one that you'll be able to see in North America will be in August 2017.

Is there anything else happening that I should know about?

Yes, so glad you asked! It's actually a big day for Earth. In addition to it being the spring equinox, there will also be a supermoon.

I'd like to sound smart in front of my friends! Can you give me a good fact to share?

Because so much of Europe depends on solar energy, the continent's been preparing for this eclipse for a while now. So while there may be power outages, they're ready.

Are there any other kinds of total eclipses I should know about?

I'll pass this question off to Bonnie Tyler.

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