NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Monday's total solar eclipse will plunge much of the United States into darkness in the middle of the day. In Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast we will see about 80 percent of the sun's disk covered by the moon. One New Orleans family says being in the path of totality is the only way to experience the event.
"We don't even know what we're going to experience," says Jennifer Jones.
Whatever it is, Jones and about 45 of her family members aren't going to miss it.
"We're going because we want to be in the line of totality. We want to experience it the best that it can be experienced."
Their family just happens to have the best accommodations.
"My family has been planning this for quite some time. It's sort of a family reunion. My younger sister lives on a golf course in Makanda, IL," says Jeff Jones.
"It's the place to be and it's being tagged as like nowhere else on earth," says Jennifer.
The town is in the crosshairs of Monday's event and a total eclipse coming in 2024. Thousands will converge on the tiny community in southern Illinois.
"I think I read a quote that this is the most visceral experience you will have with the universe that you will ever have," says Jennifer.
"It doesn't happen very often and I want to experience it," says Dee Jones.
She said as soon as she learned about the eclipse and Makanda's position she started making plans.
"We're doing this and I made a reservation."
Even if you don't have a place to stay in the path of totality you're not going to miss it all.
"We will see a partial solar eclipse so 80 percent of the diameter will be blocked out by the moon, but we'll still see a rim of very, very bright sunlight," says Dr. Greg Seab, an astrophysicist at the University of New Orleans.
He says safety is top priority.
"The first rule is don't look at it. The sun is so bright it will burn your eyes out and it doesn't take very long to do it. So, don't look at it unless you have proper approved solar eclipse glasses."
You can check by making sure you can't see any other light besides the sun when you're wearing them. Also, minimize the amount of time you stare directly at the sun.
"Eclipses, in general, aren't that rare. You can average several a year, but it's rare to have one pass over just where you are," says Seab. Another tip.
"I'm not a good qualified person to take pictures and if you saw some of the pictures I'd taken you wouldn't want them so I'm going to leave the pictures to the professionals," says Jeff.
A rare event that's baffled man for ages better understood, but still awe inspiring. Many will get the full experience in just a few days.