A once-in-a-century total solar eclipse will make viewers feel like they are watching the spectacle from another planet, a NASA scientist has told Sky News.
Parts of 14 US states will witness the natural phenomenon on Monday, while in the UK a partial eclipse will also be visible for around an hour from 7.35pm.
As many as 7.4 million people are expected to travel to areas where the Moon will completely block out the Sun, and excitement ahead of the event has led to shortages of solar eclipse glasses in some US cities.
An other-worldly experience awaits those able to take in the total eclipse, NASA research scientist and astronomer Michelle Thaller told Sky News.
:: What to expect during Great American Eclipse
She said: “This is something that changes your life. Nothing prepares you for the emotional response of seeing a sky that doesn’t look like the sky from this world.
“The thing that really gets me is you will see the Sun set 360 degrees around you. Your instincts go a little crazy as this is not the sky you are used to seeing.
“It is so beautiful… the first time I saw a total eclipse of the Sun it was like looking up into the sky of a different world. It is an emotional experience.”
Dr Thaller described solar corona – streams of light that will surround the Sun during the eclipse – as “wonderful”.
She said: “That is the outer atmosphere of the Sun, gasses about a million degrees hot. That is rather strange as the surface of the Sun is closer to 10,000 degrees.
“One of the big mysteries in science is why the outer atmosphere of the Sun is that hot and this is something we will be studying with our aircraft during the eclipse.
“It is safe to look at the solar corona. You’ll see the planets Mercury and Venus lining up next to the Sun and some of the brighter stars.”
:: Sky News will have full live coverage of the Great American Eclipse on Monday 21st August