CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Lowcountry had a front-row seat Monday to a total solar eclipse.
The sun was completely obscured by the moon at 2:47 p.m. leading to a brief window of darkness in the middle of the afternoon.
A partial eclipse became visible at approximately 1:16 p.m. over West Ashley as the moon's path took it directly between the earth and the sun.
The Lowcountry's position along the "path of totality" for Monday's solar eclipse gave residents and visitors had the chance to see a rare sight.
A solar eclipse happens when the moon moves between the sun and the earth. Because of differences in the path of the moon's orbit around the earth and the earth's orbit around the sun, total eclipses are rare, according to NASA scientists.
People in the "path of totality" have the chance, depending on cloud cover, to observe the disc of the sun completely covered by the moon, leaving only the outer glow of the sun visible.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division planned for an estimated influx of more than one million visitors in the state for several days before and after the rare event.
"If you're driving during the eclipse, keep moving," The SCEMD website advises. "Do not stop your vehicles along any interstates or any roadway."
Authorities are telling drivers they should not park along the shoulders of highways or interstates because this could prevent emergency vehicles from getting past traffic to accident scenes.
The eclipse will move across the continental United States beginning in the morning on the west coast. The partial eclipse will begin at 9:05 a.m. local time near Salem, Oregon, and the sun is expected to be completely obscured by 10:18 a.m. local time, 1:18 p.m. eastern time.
The moon's central shadow will then move inland in a path across the country, through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.
Don't look directly at the sun with just your eyes, a telescope, your camera or binoculars.
Before looking up at the sky, you should make sure your eclipse glasses are approved for safety.
Experts have been warning of potentially-unsafe, counterfeit solar glasses being sold by people more interested in making a fast buck than protecting your eyesight.
NASA released a list of approved brands for solar glasses:
- American Paper Optics
- Rainbow Symphony
- Thousand Oaks Optical
- TSE 17
The American Astronomical Society also released a list of approved manufacturers and distributors for eclipse glasses.
Eclipse glasses should feature the ISO seal, representing the International Organization for Standardization. Glasses should also display the reference number 12312-2.
Glasses that are not manufactured by one of the listed approved manufacturers and that do not contain both the ISO seal and the reference number should not be trusted.
The AAS website said if you wear glasses not listed on their site, you are taking unnecessary risks and if a supplier isn't listed it means the products could be unsafe.
The same goes for camera filters: using a digital camera or your smartphone's camera without a proper solar filter could destroy the device.