Preparing for the solar eclipse

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Seventeen days and counting until an event that you only see a few times in a lifetime.

A solar eclipse will happen Monday, August 21st.

That's when the moon will pass directly between the sun and earth and put parts of the country in darkness.

But before you look up, you need to look out and take some precautions as you witness this phenomenon.

It's been talked about. It's been waited for.

What happens August 21st hasn't been seen since 1979.

A total solar eclipse.

"An eclipse is something that doesn't happen often. So when you have a natural phenomenon that is so rare, you probably should see it when you get a chance," says one visitor to the Memphis.

" We don't think we know when the next one is gonna happen. I think we all just keep an eye open and check it out and witness this miracle from nature," says another  person in Downtown Memphis.

You may not know what to expect, but WREG Meteorologist Austen Onek says this is a big deal.

"It's really one of the most incredible things to actually experience," says Onek.

When the moon passes over the sun and covers it, portions of at least 14 states will go dark.

Here in the Midsouth, we won't see a full eclipse but close to it.

"This is what it will look like when it comes close to the Midsouth. The sun will be about 95 percent covered. So we will see a small sliver of the sun still available to take a look at,"  says Onek. "It will be kinda like twilight. The shadow will be cast just for like a little bit. It will last 2 minutes or so. Then as the moon continues to pass on through we see the sun come back out on the other side and it will get brighter and brighter and brighter."

It has the Tennessee Department of Transportation so concerned they are warning motorists to take precaution. Thousands of people on the roadways may be distracted by the astronomical occurrence,  leading to accidents on the highways.

"Do not park on the roadways to watch the eclipse, do not take selfies of yourself with the eclipse," says Lt. Bill Miller with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

But even more than a distraction, you have to be careful not to look directly at the eclipse. Special glasses can give you the protection you need so you won't damage your eyes.

"If you are planning on just using your sunglasses, that is very dangerous to look at the sun with just sunglasses. You need welding glasses or specially approved eclipse viewer glasses which are available many places here in the Midsouth," says Onek.

Another thing that will determine our view of the eclipse is what the weather will be like on August 21st.  That far out, it's not certain if it will be cloudy, rainy or sunny.