AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - For many people in this area, Monday's solar eclipse will be the most spectacular ever witnessed. But it should not be a surprise that very few people have experienced such an event.
Historically, such events are rather rare. In fact, the last time a total eclipse of the sun tracked entirely across the United States was in 1918. The last eclipse took a path similar to Monday's -- from the northwest United States to the coastal Carolinas -- but the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles were closer to the totality zone:
First Alert Meteorologist 'Doppler' Dave Oliver shows the totality zone of the eclipse that occurred in 1918. The totality zone, a band of areas described as the best places to view a maximum eclipse, fell similar to the zone expected in Monday's event.
This map shows the tracks of other solar eclipses in history. This was one in 1979 but only visible briefly and for a few states in the Pacific NW:
The yellow tracks indicate partial eclipses and, of course, they occur more frequently.
Sometimes the moon's orbit takes it a little further away from Earth so it appears a little smaller in the sky.
When that happens, the moon may not be quite large enough to cover the entire sun.
We call that an annular eclipse, that is visible as a ring of light from the sun.
We experienced a partial annular eclipse in our skies back in 2012.
In case you are planning ahead, there will be more total solar eclipses in our future.
In 2024, a total eclipse will take this path and include much of Texas. By far, the most incredible solar eclipse in our future will take place in 2045. That eclipse will pass directly over parts of our high plains.