The Facts:

This is first total solar eclipse for the Continental United States in 38 years.
On August 21, 2017, the Moon will pass between the Sun and Earth in an alignment that will cast the Moon’s shadow onto Earth.
A dark shadow of the Moon, apporx. 70 miles wide, will sweep across the U.S. over the course of one-and-a-half hours.
People in cities lying within the narrow path of the shadow will experience an eerie sense of twilight as day turns to night and back to day again within roughly 2-2.5 minutes. This period, is known as Totality.

Global perspective of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse from Michael Zeiler on Vimeo.

Click picture to enlarge

The Figures:

This infographic summarizes how many people are expected to travel to the path of totality and where they will congregate. The patterns of converging lines to the path of totality represent the quickest drive paths from throughout the nation to the path. These lines are color-coded by destination state. The blue circles in the path are destinations for eclipse travelers, proportionally sized to the expected traffic impact. The black dots are metropolitan areas throughout the country scaled to population.

Click Picture to Enlarge
Click Picture to Enlarge

The Experience:

Click the image below to read the essay: Total Eclipse of the Sun by Mary Loomis Todd (1894)

Quote from Annie Dillard, “Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane. Although the one experience precedes the other, it in no way prepares you for it”

Safety:

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality.

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” (example shown at left) or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. To date four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.
 

Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.

More info on safety:

NASA Eclipse Safety

2017 Eclipse Across America Safety