On Monday 21 August the moon will pass in front of the sun and cast darkness over a 60-mile-wide path across the United States of America. It's the first total solar eclipse in the US for 99 years, and a once in a lifetime experience for many.

While many are just excited to witness the natural event, others believe it to be an act of God, even the fulfilling of a prophecy predicting the end of the world, the rapture and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

So claim fundamentalist Christians across America, including Pastor Paul Begley, co-host of the Coming Apocalypse radio show.

"The sun shall be turned to darkness before the Day of the Lord come," he said on the show, claiming the eclipse could potentially fulfil a prophecy in the Bible's book of Joel. "Somebody sound the trumpet," he said, because the solar event may mean "we are living in the last days."

Gary Ray, a writer for evangelical Christian publication Unsealed, wrote: "The Bible says a number of times that there's going to be signs in the heavens before Jesus Christ returns to Earth. We see [the eclipse] as possibly one of those."

However, he's more interested in another astronomical event that will take place on 23 September, 33 days after the total eclipse.

He recalls how the Book of Revelation describes a woman "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head" who births a child destined to "rule all the nations with an iron scepter" while being attached by a red dragon with seven heads.

Ray believes that the image will be created in the sky when the constellation Virgo (representing the woman) will be bathed in sunlight, and will be positioned over the moon and below nine stars and three planets.

One of those planets is Jupiter, which will have been inside the Virgo constellation and will move out, which Ray interprets as the woman giving birth: "We think it's God signalling to us that he's about to make his next move."

Hugh Ross, a pastor and astronomer, has a different take: "I don't think it's an accident that God put us human beings here on Earth where we can actually see total solar eclipses. I think God wants us to make these discoveries.

"I would argue that God on purpose made the universe beautiful, and one of the beauties is a solar eclipse."

Total Eclipse Apocalypse
Bystanders view a total eclipse over Indonesia in 2016. Getty Images