Local health officials say safety should come first during today’s total eclipse of the sun.

A total eclipse of the sun is a rare astronomical event that only occurs on a given spot of the planet once every 375 years. Monday’s swath of darkness will exclusively cross the United States from Oregon to South Carolina and "the path of totality" along the way will be up to 70 miles wide.

In the Livingston County area, residents will be able to see an 80% eclipse of the sun beginning at 1pm, ending around 4pm. Individuals are advised to wear eye protection for the entire time they view the solar eclipse.

The Livingston County Health Department says the only time it is safe to watch with the naked eye is during the brief window of “totality”, when the sun is completely blocked by the moon. However, the department says “totality” will only be visible from a ribbon of land that stretches across the central U.S. It says the rest of the country, including Livingston County, will only see a partial eclipse and will need eye protection the entire time.

NASA urges people to buy special eclipse glasses to view the event, and not use makeshift or homemade filters to look at the eclipse directly.

Meanwhile with many traveling in search of the best viewing locations, motorists are reminded to use extra caution during the eclipse and avoid stopping in traffic or alongside the road to view the event. Additional safety information is below. (JM)