On August 21, a swath of the continental United States will experience one of the strangest and most wondrous phenomena it is possible to witness on Earth. A total solar eclipse will sweep the country from coast to coast. Along the eclipse’s curvaceous path from Oregon to South Carolina, the moon will momentarily block the face of the sun, obscuring all but its wispy, diaphanous atmosphere, and bathing the land below in darkness.
As the sky blackens and the stars and planets become visible, birds will fly back to their roosts. The wind will change direction. The temperature outside will cool, and the upper atmosphere will glow with strange, ghostly light, which will dance as though it is alive. After just two minutes, it will be over.
It is not to be missed. Seriously, if you have a way to reach a spot within the “path of totality” for this Great American Eclipse, it will be well worth it to do so.
“It’s an immersive experience unlike any other astronomical phenomenon, apart from the aurora, probably,” says Kate Russo, a psychologist and eclipse chaser. “You feel it above you, around you, within you. You feel the changes. … You just can’t believe that you’re seeing what you’re seeing. You’re looking at the world around you, but it almost feels like a different world.”