Solar Eclipse: What's the big deal?

Viewers of the solar eclipse have come from all parts of the country to Solar Port, the makeshift campground in Madras, Oregon. After road triping with friends and family from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Don Anderson explains with high hopes for clear skies, "You have to be an optimist to be an eclipse chaser." Photo by Cheyenne Thorpe, Oregon News Lab

If you haven't heard, there is a total solar eclipse coming through Oregon on Monday, August 21.

While the buzz around the event has reached epic proportions over the summer, some may still be wondering why.

So what is this eclipse, and why does everyone seem to care about it so much?

If you're still wondering, we've got you covered with five articles you must read to prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

What's a total solar eclipse, and why is this one so unusual?

Total solar eclipses occur every year or two or three, often in the middle of nowhere like the South Pacific or Antarctic. What makes Monday's eclipse so special is that it will cut diagonally across the entire United States.

The last time a total solar eclipse swept the whole width of the U.S. was in 1918.

From Founding Fathers to today: A look at 9 eclipses over the past three centuries

From the founding of the United States to the current century, solar eclipses have inspired awe and public fascination, marked turning points in U.S. history and have been a cause for scientific curiosity, discovery and advancement.

“A total eclipse is a rare and spectacular event, one that transcends politics and plucks us out of our everyday lives,” author and umbraphile David Baron told Sinclair Broadcast Group. “It’s a humbling reminder of our place in the cosmos, that we are tiny beings at the mercy of forces so much larger than any of us."

Solar eclipse in history: The Revolutionary War

The story of the earliest eclipses observed in the United States would not be complete without Benjamin Franklin, statesman, scientist, humorist and astronomer.

European science and astronomy were booming in the 18th century with universities and scientific societies at the cutting edge of physics, natural sciences and astronomy. Founders like Franklin not only sought a place on the map for America as an independent nation, but also within the scientific world, contributing knowledge "to the Benefit of Mankind in general."

That mission was borne out in part with one of Franklin's earliest published work, Poor Richard's Almanack, an annual guidebook forecasting the major celestial happenings, including eclipses.

Total solar eclipse in Oregon: February, 1979

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible in Oregon was in 1979.

KVAL photojournalist Doug Schwindt searched through the archives and found this video of the eclipse.

Man who injured eye during partial eclipse in '60's warns other of dangers

A Portland man is warning others of the dangers of looking at the sun during a solar eclipse after he damaged his eye in the 1960s.

Louis Tomososki said he was watching a partial eclipse decades ago when he lost some of his eyesight.

“We came out those doors right there because the science teacher said there was an eclipse of the sun,” Tomososki said as he pointed to the old Marshall High School.

Tomosoki said it only took about 20 seconds of looking at the sun to cause damage.

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