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In just a short while, parts of the world will be privy to a pretty big eclipse, which has excited many and led to plenty of stores and libraries selling all of their eclipse glasses. If you and your family are interested in viewing, or just want to know a little more about what is coming up with the eclipse this Monday, take a look at these five fun things to know about the solar eclipse before it becomes a reality this week.
What A Total Eclipse Is
When the New Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, it casts its umbra, or darkest shadow, on Earth. This phenomenon is a total solar eclipse. At this time, the Moon blocks out the entire disk of the Sun.
Where You Can See the Great American Eclipse
You can experience the Great American Eclipse of 2017 anywhere in North America on August 21, but totality will be extra special. Totality will happen along a path from the west coast of Oregon through the east coast of South Carolina. Have a look at this NASA map.
This total solar eclipse will begin in the Pacific Ocean and end in the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, the path will coincide with one of Royal Caribbean's cruises, so the company went all out and hired Bonnie Tyler to perform "Total Eclipse of the Heart" aboard the ship as the Moon passes in front of the Sun.
If you cannot see this particular eclipse, don't worry. Neil deGrasse Tyson says,
Sure, this is the first eclipse of its kind since 1918. However, there will be a similar one in 2024. And Neil deGrasse Tyson is correct. You can still see total solar eclipses elsewhere on Earth every couple of years.
When To Grab Your Eclipse Gear and Go Outside
The best place to be for the eclipse is along the path of totality. Here is a handy-dandy list of times for totality, according to Eclipse2017.org:
• Beach just north of Newport, Oregon: 10:15 a.m.
If your city is not along the path of totality, you can still see a partial eclipse. Use a map to locate the city closest to your city's latitude and longitude, and set your schedule that way. Also, if you will be indoors during the eclipse, check out National Geographic's online view:
Why Safety Still Matters with a Total Solar Eclipse
Never look directly at the Sun without protection. This rule remains during an eclipse. A direct look can result in permanent eye damage.
If you can see totality during the eclipse, you may look directly. But make sure the Moon has completely blocked out the Sun. Don't look too soon. Don't look too long.
Regardless of whether you see a partial or total solar eclipse, take protective measures. If you can't get your hands on proper eclipse glasses, use a pinhole projector like this:
Warning: Neither sunglasses nor 3D glasses will suffice. Be certain what you buy is not a fake.
Some of the Strangest Eclipse Superstitions
The sensation one feels during a total solar eclipse is an excited eeriness. Storytelling has long helped people of all cultures explain aspects of human existence, so people have long devised fantastic superstitions about eclipses.
Some cultures promote the notion that women, especially pregnant women, should remain indoors during an eclipse. From the sounds of it, this antiquated idea lies somewhere between an old wive's tale and The Handmaid's Tale. Essentially, people used to say eclipses had a horrible effect on a woman's health and the health of an unborn child--because, you know, that sounds science-y.
Speaking of unborn kids, some cultures say conceiving during an eclipse results in a demon child. Of course, this is untrue. Everybody knows the only real way to conceive a demon child is to add "tannis root" to smoothies like in Rosemary's Baby.
On the other hand, a total solar eclipse is a perfect time to get a demon Venus fly trap from outer space. Well, it was in Little Shop of Horrors anyway.
Not all superstitions are spooky. Some cultures say eclipses bring peace. This one might have some historical basis, as there is a Greek legend about a ceasefire in an ancient Asian war between the Medes and the Lydians. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus said the total solar eclipse stunned both sides into making peace.
Give peace a chance, man. Be safe during the eclipse. We hope your experience is out of this world.