The difference between 99% and 100% totality is bigger than you think

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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – Close isn’t close enough. That’s what Director Dr. Gary J. Senn at the Ruth Patrick Science Center at USC Aiken wants you to know.

"That's what makes the total solar eclipse so rare, only a certain segment of people can see it, and even less can see totality,” said Dr. Senn.

Totality's path will cross the entire U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. But there's only a small band of that path where the moon will completely block the sun.

"At about 2:40 p.m., so an hour and a half or so into it, we'll get to totality," said Senn, "For us, the maximum time for totality will be about 2 minutes and 30 seconds."

That's less than 3 minutes that you may never see again. For those viewing the eclipse right on the edge of totality, only 99% of the total eclipse will be visible. But Dr. Senn says that 1% difference is actually much bigger than you think.

"Even at 99%, that sliver of the sun is going to be too bright for you to see the corona, so you'll miss that whole piece,” said Dr. Senn.

The corona is the only phase of the eclipse where you can look into the sky without any eyewear. Beyond that though, Dr. Senn says you can't miss it.

"It's dramatic, the difference in darkness between totality and 99% partial," said Dr. Senn

The eclipse will be beautiful no matter where you are, but enthusiasts don't want those who live right on the edge to waste a golden opportunity.

"Get into Totality, that's the place you need to be for the Great American solar eclipse," said Dr. Senn.

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