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Lads! Where are your glasses!?

“Plan ahead.”

Sound advice for the coming penumbral occulation on Monday, Aug. 21 — and it comes to you  courtesy the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which is splashing the message across its highway message boards statewide.

If the highway department is urging you to get a plan, you best get a plan.

So far on our blog, we’ve aided in this effort in two ways:

  1. Where to watch. We shared five viewing venues — four in total blackout, one in partial — that likely won’t be as crowded as you might expect. Read that post here.
  2. What to bring. Because, really, how many of us know what to bring to a total eclipse? A red? A white? Moon pies? Actually, a camp chair tops our list. Read that post here.

Today, we share maybe not everything you need to know to catch the eclipse, but a lot of important stuff nonetheless. Starting with …

When is it?

Monday, Aug., 21. “Transition” — when the moon begins crossing the sun — begins in North Carolina at 1:05 p.m. and ends at 4:05 p.m. Parts of North Carolina will be dark from 2:33 to 2:38 p.m.

Path of totality?

Only the far southwestern tip of North Carolina will get the Total package. Clingman’s Dome is inside the zone, Asheville is outside the zone. Much of the Nantahala National Forest will be dark. Find a map here.

Duration of totality?

The sun will be completely obscured for up to 2 minutes and 39 seconds in North Carolina. The North Carolina town undergoing the longest blackout: Andrews, which goes dark for 2 minutes and 38 seconds. For a rundown of how long totality will last in other North Carolina mountain towns, visit NationalEclipse.com.

Do I need the funny glasses?

Yes. NASA tells us that “Looking at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse … . Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.” And make sure they are serious funny glasses, bearing the ISO 12312-2 safety standard seal of approval.

I don’t have funny glasses. Can I still get them? Finding funny glasses right now is like trying to score gas back in 1973: a load comes in, word spreads, they’re gone. The American Astronomical Society has compiled a list of vendors selling legitimate viewing glasses, including various retail chains such as Circle K, Kroger, Pilot/Flying J, Toys ‘R’ Us and Walmart. Time is quickly running out to order online. Find the AAS list here.

Let’s say I can’t procure glasses by Monday. I’ve heard Ritz crackers work — true? If you’re thinking of putting them over your eyes, no: NASA does not endorse the use of pinholed snack crackers in lieu of safety glasses. They do, however, offer safe ways to view the eclipse without funny glasses that involve pinhole projectors, which you can read about here.

What if I can’t make it to southwestern North Carolina? Work, eh? The rest of North Carolina will be exposed to a partial eclipse, which will still be pretty cool. All but the northeast corner of the state will see a partial eclipse with a minimum 90 percent “obscuration” (at least 90 percent of the sun will be obliterated). Exact percentages for select cities: Charlotte, 98 percent; Chapel Hill, 93 percent; Greensboro, 94 percent; Greenville, 91 percent; Raleigh, 93 percent; Wilmington, 96 percent; Winston Salem, 94 percent. For more North Carolina cities, go here.

Hopefully, the forecast for Aug. 21 means we won’t see any shadows from 2:33 to 2:38 p.m.

What’s the forecast for Monday afternoon? It’s summer, so we run the risk of afternoon thunderstorms (which, of course, means clouds) in the mountains as well as the Piedmont and coast. Right now, though, it looks promising. Plus, forecasts are just that — educated guesses. You shouldn’t let speculation keep you from prepping for a once-in-99-years event.

What if I miss this eclipse? When’s the next one? The next total eclipse to darken North Carolina soil will be on May 11, 2078 (that’s another 61 years, btw).

Where can I learn about viewing events? Many of North Carolina’s State Parks are hosting events; learn about those here. For a comprehensive listing of events in the Totality Zone, visit RomanticAsheville.com, here. GetGoingNC! has a list of events, here. Google “eclipse events” and the name of your town, and you should find a bevy of nearby gatherings.

Is Great Outdoor Provision Co. doing anything? Thanks for asking. Yes, our GetHiking! Triangle group will holding an event from 12:30 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve in northern Durham County. Learn more about that event and sign up to join us by going here.