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Solar Eclipse Coverage: TV Goes Totally Looney for Lunar Moment

Major TV networks are gearing up to cover Monday’s solar eclipse as if it were a sporting event — the Super Bowl of the scientific world.

The first total solar eclipse to cross the United States since 1917 and the first to be visible from the mainland since 1979 is set to begin around 1:15 p.m. ET. The eclipse will be visible for another 90 minutes in varying degrees around the country. The total blackout of the sun will be visible for a few minutes along the 73-mile-wide “path of totality” that runs along a diagonal stretch of the country, starting in Oregon and ending in South Carolina.

The event has taken on a life of its own, with festivals and even cruises organized around a celebration of the rare moment when the moon steals the spotlight from the sun because the two celestial bodies are in perfect alignment from the perspective of those on Earth. Similar to a sporting event, the heart of the action will take place over a relatively short period of time — each city along the path of totality will experience roughly two minutes of total darkness.

For the millions of Americans who live outside the path of totality, however, television will serve up plenty of live coverage of the action in the sky and on the ground.

Here’s is a list of major networks offering extensive eclipse coverage on Monday:

  • NASA TV, naturally, has the prime vantage point in the sky and will be providing multiple feeds to major news networks. But the space agency’s coverage will be available for streaming via the NASA TV platform, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET with a pre-show event from the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
  • PBS’ Nova will host a Facebook Live event at 12 p.m. ET with PBS science correspondent Miles O’Brien. The event will feature commentary by astrophysicist Jason Kalirai from the Space Telescope Science Institute and other experts gathered to watch the eclipse along the path of totality in Irwin, Idaho. In addition, Nova will air an hour-long documentary “Eclipse Over America” at 9 p.m. ET, the fastest turnaround documentary the venerable series has ever produced.
  • Fox News Channel‘s Shepard Smith will provide live coverage from the Fox News Deck of the solar eclipse from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET, breaking into regularly scheduled programming to update the audience with participation from FNC correspondents across the country.
  • NBC News will kick off its event coverage with “Today” featuring Al Roker live from the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., the last U.S. city in the eclipse’s path of totality on Monday. Lester Holt will anchor an “NBC News Special Report” in the 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. ET hours from New York, joined by meteorologist Dylan Dreyer and NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres.
  • For ABC News, The Great American Eclipse” will air from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, with coverage also pushed out through online and social channels, including ABCNews.com, Facebook Live, YouTube, and across ABC News social media accounts. “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir leads live coverage of the first total solar eclipse visible in America in 38 years.
  • CBS News will deliver a full day of division-wide coverage of the Great American Eclipse on all CBS News broadcasts and platforms, including “CBS This Morning” (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.); “CBS News’ Special Report: Solar Eclipse 08.21.17″ (1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET); the “CBS Evening News” (6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET); CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 live, streaming news service; CBS News Radio; and CBS Newspath.
  • CNN will have correspondents posted throughout the path of totality, including Alex Marquardt in Oregon and Kaylee Hartung in South Carolina. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers will play a big part in the coverage. CNN will also present a VR take on the eclipse with a two-hour live stream via CNN.com/eclipse and its apps. It’s billed an immersive experience that will feature former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly and space and science correspondent Rachel Crane.
  • The Science Channel will air a one-hour special with same day eclipse footage at 9 p.m. ET, in addition to live coverage on the ground as the eclipse takes place.
  • Facebook is looking to capitalize on public interest in the eclipse by promoting NASA TV’s Facebook Live simulcast, among a host of other features designed to help users show off their eclipse-viewing experience.
  • MTV, while not airing any live coverage of the eclipse, will air a ‘VMA x eclipse’ animated graphic on-air and across digital and social platforms. The network will also partner with Fooji to deliver custom “VMA” viewing glasses and astronaut ice cream in Charleston, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York and St. Louis to those who tweet #TotalEclipseVMA and the female astronaut emoji beginning at 11 a.m. ET, in addition to handing out eclipse viewing glasses live on-air to people in Times Square.

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