SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and millions of Americans are about to take advantage of it.

Lodging has been booked up, rental cars are sold out and small towns in a 70-mile wide swath across the country are bracing for an invasion of visitors as the first total solar eclipse in a century is about to make it’s way across America.

“This is a 99-year event,” said Vanessa Griffin from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s been 99 years since total eclipse covered West Coast to East Coast.”

On August 21st daytime will turn into nighttime for a few minutes as the moon will pass between the sun and the earth. Its shadow will race across the county at an average speed of 1500 mph. Temperatures will drop by as much as 25 degrees.

“These are cosmic moments when nature speaks to us in an emotional way — sometimes loudly like thunderstorms, like hurricanes, earthquakes,” said NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchan. “But this one will be silent,”

Eclipse watchers will have a chance to view the sun’s lower corona. It’s this region that expels electromagnetic energy and matter into the solar system. The eclipse will have an impact on many aspects of our day-to-day life.

“It messes with GPS, with our communications systems, even power grids,” said NASA astrophysicist De. Laex Young.

It will also mess with your eyes if you stare directly at it without safety glasses.

“The sun is way too bright for your eyes,” Zurbuchan said. “Do enjoy it but be safe.”

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