Here is a checklist for things to observe during a total solar eclipse! (Disclaimer, If you’re inside the path of totality, and you are looking at the sun at the very start of the partial phase with your eclipse glasses, you may be underwhelmed, BUT JUST YOU WAIT! Soon, a very small “bite” out of the sun will appear, and this the dark disk of the new moon moving in front of the sun.) At about 80% of totality, when the moon still has a bit to go before it completely blocks the sun’s light, but the brightness of the sky will start to dim, your surroundings will become encased in an eerie rather unfamiliar light, and the temperature may even dip 5-20 degrees in a matter of minutes, and a cool wind may blow! And maybe the most amazing thing of all, birds may chirp, or begin to fly toward their nests or where they roost for the night, cows and sheep and other animals may start to head to their barn, your dog may scratch at the door to be let in, flowers may close, deer and other crepuscular animals (foxes, bats, opossums) may come out of their hiding spots. Depending on the time of year, you might even hear a cricket sing its song…or could that be an owl hooting? Then look down on the ground (white pavement or light asphalt is best) and see if you can see “shadow bands,” snake like shadows on the ground . When this last light passes through our turbulent (moving air) atmosphere, the sun’s rays are being distorted, and when we witness this occurrence, these bands of light will appear to MOVE! This process is much akin to the same kind of turbulence in our atmosphere that cause the stars in our night sky to appear to twinkle. Then when the moon has completely covered the sun, the last tiny sliver of light shines through lunar valleys, breaking up into a chain of bright “pearls” called Baily’s beads, an amazing diamond ring will appear. After the diamond ring disappears, you’ll only have a few seconds to glimpse the crimson-colored chromosphere.
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