Don't look now, but the whole country is gearing up for the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States since 1979. You'll need special eye wear on Aug. 21 to watch it, or make travel plans if you want to experience it.
For a few minutes, people in the path of the total eclipse will have the unusual sight of the moon lining up to perfectly block the sun's disk and cast a shadow onto Earth. It has been nicknamed the All American Eclipse, because this is the only land mass the moon's shadow will touch.
What time: The moon will be blocking slightly more than 80 percent of the sun in the Tampa Bay area from 1:17 p.m. until 4:14 p.m. with maximum coverage taking place at 2:49 p.m. But without special eyeglasses, don't expect to notice a difference here.
Solar glasses: These could sell out, but while supplies last, retail chains offering eclipse glasses for $1-$3 include 7-Eleven, Circle K, Lowe's, Toys "R" Us and Walmart. Eclipse2017.org offers a list of eclipse glasses in packs of three to 200 from $1-$4. Many libraries have free solar glasses with special programs on the eclipse. See starnetlibraries.org/2017eclipse/ for a list of local libraries participating.
Travel: If you want to head to the eclipse zone, it's about a 10-hour drive from the Tampa Bay area to the nearest point of totality, according to AAA Auto Club. Another option is the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Oasis of the Seas leaving Sunday from Port Canaveral. It will have a side trip to the open sea in line with the path of the eclipse before heading to the Caribbean.
• St. Petersburg College Planetarium: Between 1:15 and 4 p.m. on Aug. 21 will have eclipse viewers and telescopes with solar filters available in the quad area of the St. Petersburg Gibbs campus, east of the Natural Science building, near the West St. Petersburg Library. The science building is accessible from 69th Street at Fifth Avenue N.
• MOSI: Even though the Museum of Science and Industry is closed for remodeling until November, it is hosting a freeing viewing of the eclipse through telescopes fitted with solar filters. Even if cloudy skies prevent firsthand viewing of the eclipse, MOSI will air a live-stream video of the event from NASA. 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa.
• The 78th Street Community Library in Tampa will have free solar glasses and a lecture on Tuesday at 7 p.m., and an eclipse viewing on Aug. 21 at 1 p.m.
• The Safety Harbor Library will provide solar glasses for viewing Monday at the city's waterfront park at 2 p.m. 110 Veterans Memorial Lane.
• As one of the highest elevations in Florida, Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales is offering a unique lookout opportunity. The first 400 hundred visitors will receive free solar glasses. Admission: $14 adults, $5 kids ages 5-12. 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales.
NASA: The space agency's website has loads of information on the eclipse and its path and will be live streaming the event on Aug. 21 at nasa.gov.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] Follow @SharonKWn.