back to article Clear August 21 in your diary: It's a total solar eclipse for the smart

Scientists are gearing up for the hotly anticipated total solar eclipse on August 21 by preparing a series of experiments. The event, dubbed the Great American Eclipse, will blot out sunlight across a 70-mile (112-kilometre)-wide strip stretching from Oregon to South Carolina in the US. The last total solar eclipse visible …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me


    Republicans will claim it's due to the Democrats (and visa versa)

    Creationists will say it proves whatever they believe in

    Religious leaders will say it's God's wrath against homosexuality

    Conspiracy theorists will claim it was a massive UFO mothership passing overhead

    No one will propose to their girlfriends just as the 'diamond ring' appears - saves buying a real one !!!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You forgot about the flat-earth people...

      Let's see them explain this one !

      1. Mr_Pitiful

        Flat-Earth Activists

        They will just say it's the 'Sun' being adjusted due to the brightness variations of the bulb!

        1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

          Re: Flat-Earth Activists

          I know two people who are flat-earthers. One is a right-wing nutjob and the other is a left-wing nutjob. Stupid is not confined to Trumpsters or Hippies. I think I will ask them just to see how they explain it. I bet I will get a different answer from each.

          (Turn around, bright eyes.)

          1. Sappa

            Re: Flat-Earth Activists

            It would be interesting to find out what unites them in their stupidity!

      2. Sappa

        Exactly what I was thinking. I know one of them.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      The solution is...

      To put both lots of douchbags in a swamp area before the eclipse with NO Mossie Repellant.

      As the sky darkens the mossies will think that it is night and start flying in their billion.

      The willer will be the ones that survive being eaten alive.

      Simple really.

      1. Chemical Bob

        Re: The solution is...

        "put both lots of douchbags in a swamp area"

        Shouldn't be too hard, there are many marshy areas around DC.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      So much hype about the first coast to coast total eclipse in a century in the US, I have a feeling it will end up cloudy or raining across most of the viewing area. I have tentative plans to drive a few hours to see it, but whether we actually will depends on what the forecast looks like that morning.

      1. handleoclast

        Re: Clouds?


        Last time I saw a total solar eclipse, it was overcast. Cloud from horizon to horizon.

        And yet, a minute or two before the eclipse was to be visible where I was, a small hole appeared in the clouds allowing me to see the eclipse. The hole was only slightly larger than the eclipse itself. The hole closed shortly afterwards.

        If I remember correctly from what I found on the internet shortly afterwards, this is a known phenomenon, rather uncommon, and there is no agreed explanation for it (but there are plausible hypotheses that don't involve a magic sky fairy wanting me to have the chance to see an eclipse).

        So you might be lucky anyway.

        1. ICPurvis47

          Re: Clouds?

          This exact phenomenon happened to me as well. We were on our way to the Black Forest in Germany in 1999, and had planned our route to pass along the Autoroute north of Metz at the correct time. The french authorities decreed that all traffic on the Autoroutes should stop some ten minutes before totality, so we were in an Aire, but it was ten tenths overcast and pouring with rain. We thought that we were going to miss the show, when a small hole appeared in the cloud cover, and we were treated to a magnificent view of the String of Pearls and the Diamond Ring, before the clouds healed up again and the rain resumed. Nearly everybody in that Aire were cheering and taking flash photographs (why flash against the sun?), and ten minutes later the Autoroute was opened again and we continued on our way.

          1. handleoclast

            Re: Flash against the sun?

            @ ICPurvis47

            Using flash against the sun is obviously stupid.

            The correct setting is explained in this XKCD strip.

            Actually, I'd guess they forgot to turn off auto-flash, the camera detected that it was dark, and...

        2. Chris Coles

          Re: Clouds?

          The sudden hole in the clouds will be caused by the same thing with a hurricane eye, right at the centre of the rotating hurricane; only in this case it is the attachment of the gas molecules in the atmosphere, forming Gas Molecule Attachment Force Columns, (gravity is caused by the attachment of gas molecules to mass), between the Earth and the Sun forming a vortex, no different than any other vortex is caused by a rotating mass within an atmosphere. Simple!

        3. PaulFrederick

          Re: Clouds?

          With reservations made and 571 mile drive I'm going. If it is cloudy oh well. At 2:36 PM where I'm at I'm going to look up anyways.

      2. thondwe

        Re: Clouds?

        Had clouds at the 1999 UK eclipse - could just see eclipse approach at times through clouds - but still eerily spooky - so still worth the effort to get under the track...

    4. macjules Silver badge

      ... And Trump will say that it is definitely not Russia who caused it, that it is down to Clinton and if he had Senate approval in the House then there would be no more eclipses.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down


        So, the article is 100% pure science and no politics to be found in it. And what do I see filling up the comment thread? A whole heaping mound of semi-congealed bile, reeking of anti-usa feelings. Tsk. What's the deal here? Is it the mere fact of an unusual astronomical event on US soil enough to open your spigots to the "fire-hose" setting? Or maybe you haters treat any usa-related article as a convenient place to foregather and compare hatreds?

        Whatever, it must be kinda difficult for Katyanna to see the comment thread on her nice little piece about the eclipse be victimized by a pack of idle hyenas.

        Katyanna, I found your piece well written and informative. :-)

    5. Haku

      And Tintin will use it to save himself from being sacrificed by Trump voters...

  2. Rol Silver badge

    I see an opportunity

    Donald Trump branded binoculars.

    Let's see them find the polling station after that little caper.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: I see an opportunity

      a. Points the wrong way

      b. Lacks focus

      c. Takes a retinal scan and sends it to Russia

  3. davcefai


    This phenomenon will be due to a newly hatched turtle flying over the Disc and temporarily occluding the sun.

    Didn't anybody pay attention in class? :-)

  4. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Close but no cigar.

    If it started 60m south it could have done Charleston to Charlseton.

  5. frank ly

    Eclipses confuse me

    "... when the Moon is wedged between the Sun and the Earth ..."

    What do they use for a wedge?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Eclipses confuse me

      What do they use for a wedge?

      A very large block of wood and even bigger hammer?

      1. psychonaut

        Re: Eclipses confuse me

        cheese of course

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Eclipses confuse me

      You can get away with lemon but lime is preferred.

  6. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    In the UK at 7.35pm BST on August 21 ...

    ... people will be able to see clouds as usual.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: In the UK at 7.35pm BST on August 21 ...

      Cant see clouds at the moment! The rain has reduced visibility to 50'.

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    tweet @realdonaldtrump

    Chinese conspiracy to steal great American sun! Sad!

  8. Snowy Silver badge

    You nearly got it

    The headline would have been better if you had gone for:

    Clear August 21 in your diary: It's a total solar eclipse of the smart

    With apologies to Bonnie Tyler

  9. TheElder

    Flat Earther

    Guess who is a flat Earther.

    2 dimensional brain

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flat Earther

      There are so many fake news stories about Mr Trump these days, one way or the other that I've taken to skipping over any web page that mentions his name because I really cannot be bothered to work out where a given story comes on the continuum accuracy->exaggeration->satire->deliberate falsehood. I'm not sure this is an entirely healthy development.

      The ironic part, for the anti Trump polemicists to consider, is that if the man does do something unacceptable, then the stories will be indistinguishable from all their various types of propaganda, so is liable to have a far smaller impact on the neutral person's opinions than it would do if there wasn't this constant stream of material of dubious reliability.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flat Earther

        Same here

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flat Earther

        > "The ironic part, for the anti Trump polemicists to consider, is that if the man does do something unacceptable, then the stories will be indistinguishable from all their various types of propaganda..."

        Yes, but it's all saying bad things about Trump, and that's the main thing. The constant drumbeat of negativity, highly amplified by a compliant and like-minded press. Who cares which ones are actually true?

        But now a growing segment of the public is treating all negative reports about Trump as bilge, you're right. And it is providing him a shield against the endless assault by the Left. But hey, that's what happens in war, and the Democrats have clearly declared war against President Trump. They have to, being the ones who actually were colluding with Russia, setting up Republicans as pretexts for spying, and on and on.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Flat Earther

      "Guess who is a flat Earther."

      That's a very well done spoof. I hope. The alternative is....terrifying.

  10. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "The event, dubbed the Great American Eclipse [...]"

    I was under the impression that this has happened already? On 2017-01-20?

  11. Mage Silver badge

    Just imagine

    A suitably massive and timed flare could extinguish all life except in the eclipse shadow path. I wonder how that would work as backstory for an apocalyptic story?

  12. Amorous Cowherder
    Thumb Up

    I remember my first full eclipse as a kid. I remember the total silence in the middle of the day as all the animals fall silent was one of the creepiest things I experienced. I'd love to make time to travel to see another one day.

  13. Palpy

    Where I live --

    -- the climate is Mediterranean: July, August, and most of September are usually clear and, during the day, sunny. This is because the west coast of North America used to be located where Naples is today, and despite subsequent tectonic events, the climate remains linked (through the ancient magnetosphere) to that Mediterranean norm. I expect sunshine. Except during totality.

    As far as the Moon being "wedged" in between the Earth and Sun, the Malkovich Cycles (not to be confused with the Milankovitch Cycles) tend to compress spacetime during this period, such that the physical distance between the solar and terrestrial globes is foreshortened (relativistically speaking). Quite a bit of effort is required to force the Moon into this curiously narrow gap, and physicists must pound it forcefully with Einstein's Hammer to get it to fit.

    I'm located just outside the path of totality, which means I may not see the Corona ("la cerveza mas fina!") unless I buy a sixpack beforehand. Authorities predict traffic jams, packed hotels and campgrounds, overcrowded parks, the birth of three-headed calves, Ragnarök, and annoying levels of litter.

    I think I'll make a pinhole viewer, and stay home.

  14. Black Rat

    Space Above & Beyond Trivia Teaser

    Is this the eclipse during James Dark Moon was born [Season 1, Episode 20 "Stardust"] ?


  15. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Fingers crossed

    If all goes according to plan, I should be in Glendo, Wyoming, right in the heart of the eclipse path, feverishly taking photos with a small telescope and a large telephoto. I managed to catch the 1999 eclipse just outside Sarreguemines in the Alsace, a grey day with just four perfectly chosen minutes of clear sky. I really hope I can improve on those (analogue) shots with the new digital kit. Wishing all watchers clear skies!

  16. Roj Blake

    Fun Fact

    Total Eclipse of the Heart is actually a song about vampires.

  17. David Nash

    Fingers crossed for the weather

    I have been to two total solar eclipses, Shanghai 2009 in which it totally p'd down with rain but the darkness (on the beach) was pretty cool; and Cairns 2012, which was viewed from a boat out on the great barrier reef, and was awesome.

    Off to Oregon for this one. My family are starting to suspect there's a reason why they get decent holidays every once in a while :-)

  18. Sappa

    A great window of opportunity for scientific answers

  19. Peter Ford

    Save the Cheerleader...

    ... save the world?

  20. PaulFrederick

    I want to see the Sun blotted out of the sky! Paint it, paint it black. I made my reservations months ago now. I got my eclipse glasses. I'm ready to go.

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