Lights out

WATCH: Check out this livestream of the solar eclipse

The solar eclipse will plunge parts of the US into darkness this afternoon.

WHILE TODAY’S SOLAR eclipse won’t look too dramatic in Ireland, these stunning live views are coming from the United States, courtesy of Nasa – National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The first location to be plunged into complete darkness will be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean before the moon’s shadow makes landfall in Oregon and travels across to South Carolina.

At about 4.05pm Irish time, eclipse fans in Lincoln Beach, Oregon were the first to be able to witness the phenomenon.

More than 100,000 people have gathered in Madras, Oregon, typically a town of 7,000.

Totality began at 5.16pm over Oregon and it’s set to end at around 6.48pm.

The total eclipse will carve a 7113-kilometre wide path of darkness over 14 states.

Live watch parties

Nasa is broadcasting the live video, and watch parties are being held in parks, libraries and stadiums across the US.

In downtown Charleston, one cafe served breakfast sandwiches and cocktails to a full house as crowds of tourists – some in star-printed trousers – made their way to the East Coast city’s storied water-front to stake out a prime spot.

Vendor Jan Dahouas sold t-shirts emblazoned with ‘Eclipse 2017′ and buttons that read ‘Keep Calm and Stare at the Sun’ ahead of the main event.

“I am really pumped up about it,” said Dahouas, who is from Atlanta, Georgia.

“I hear it is supposed to be really moving.”

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‘We’re ready!’

Experts warn that looking directly at an eclipse can cause permanent eye damage.

The only safe time to look at it is for those within the path of totality – and only during the brief moments when the Sun is completely blocked.

Scientists plan to study the eclipse to learn more about the super-hot corona, or outer edge of the Sun.

Astronauts orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station are also planning to document the eclipse and will get to see it three times.

“My first solar eclipse from space… We’re ready!” wrote Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

Past eclipses 

The last time the United States witnessed an eclipse of this significance was in 1918 – its path wasn’t hugely dissimilar to today’s.

Solar eclipses happen relatively frequently, and very few places on Earth haven’t experienced one in the past 1,000 years.

The last time a total eclipse was seen on Irish soil was 1727.

Ireland experienced other recent partial eclipses in 2008, 2006, and 2005, but the one that will stand out in most people’s mind was in 1999 when a similar frenzy of media coverage was experienced.

The path of totality came close to the south coast of Ireland. 97% of the sun was obscured in Cork.

[image alt="Eclipse Kentucky" src="" width="296" height="199" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

This time around, the eclipse won’t have much of an impact on this side of the Atlantic.

Just 8% of the sun will be covered by the moon in the extreme north-west, rising to 13% in the extreme south-west.

Astronomy Ireland will hold two eclipse events this evening, where they will have all the equipment necessary to comfortably and safely watch the eclipse.

One is at their headquarters in Rosemount Business Park, Dublin 15, the other will be in the south-east, at Kingsmeadow, Old Cork Road, Waterford. Both events are taking place at 7.30pm.

With reporting by Nicky Ryan and AFP. 

Read: The United States is about to experience the best eclipse in a lifetime… but how long does Ireland have to wait?

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