It's an awe-inspiring sight that doesn't occur often: For the first time in 38 years, the contiguous U.S. will experience a total eclipse of the sun.

This celestial event happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun. A total solar eclipse, when the moon fully covers the sun, can only be seen in the path of totality.

On Monday, the path of totality will cross the U.S. from west to east, through 14 states, from Lincoln Beach, Ore. to Charleston, S.C. (All of North America — plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe — will see a partial eclipse.)

Check out the best viewing times for 10 cities in the path of the total eclipse below:

According to NASA, the first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Ore. at 9:05 a.m. PDT. From there it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, S.C. at 2:48 p.m. EDT. The longest duration of the eclipse will occur near Carbondale, Ill., where the sun will be completely blocked nearly three minutes.

Wherever you view the eclipse, be sure to protect your vision with special ISO 12312-2 compliant shades, which are thousands of times stronger than sunglasses.

And remember: Never look directly at the sun without appropriate eye protection — it could severely damage your eyesight.

Don't miss this rare sight — the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. isn't until 2024.