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The bewitching splendor of an eclipse, in 13 vintage photos

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1961 | Crowds watch the total solar eclipse near Nice, France.

The last time the United Stated played host to that path of totality was in 1979. And this year's event will actually be the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse will be visible from coast to coast. 

"This is the most awesome astronomical event there is, period," Mike Kentrianakis, a veteran eclipse chaser, told The New York Times. "You'll never ever forget it."

As the moon slowly makes its away across the sun, the darkening day takes on a mystical, ominous quality. The temperature drops. The wind picks up. The dimming sun creates an eerie twilight in hues rarely seen in the natural world. Then, you're plunged into darkness. Depending on where you are, the moment can last anywhere from a few seconds to just over two minutes.

"I had no idea that it was going to be so powerful and emotive and euphoric and exciting," eclipse-chaser Kate Russo told Vox. "It's very unlike another experience."

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