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Your Guide To The Aug. 21, 2017, Total Solar Eclipse

J Lippold

Do you have your eclipse glasses? A hotel reservation? An alternate travel plan just in case it’s cloudy in Wyoming -- or wherever you hope to see the eclipse?

If you've missed the memo, don't worry. I'm your guide for the 2017 total solar eclipse. Here's everything you need to know -- and a few things you didn’t know you needed to know and, well, a few random bits of cool.

It's Here! Finally!

Monday, Aug. 21 is the day, and the eclipse is crossing over North America. NASA is providing a live video feed of the event as it happens. If you can't get out to see it in person, you can watch it right here.


And if you can get outside to see the big event, here's some tips to help you enjoy it.

Enlighten Yourself On The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

First, check out KUNC reporter Jackie Fortier’s work. She breaks down the nuts and bolts of the big event. Find out exactly what makes the solar eclipse interesting where exactly you can go to be in the path of totality. As I mentioned, don’t forget to check the weather and have a Plan B just in case of, you know, rain.

The most important thing you need to enjoy the solar eclipse is a pair of eclipse glasses. To make sure yours will protect your eyes, look for International Safety Standard No. (ISO) 12312-2 printed on the glasses somewhere. If you find that difficult to remember, here’s a trick I use: highlight the number and paste it in an email or text to yourself. Or screenshot this page. When you’ve got your glasses in hand, you can check the number that way.

Credit Science Friday
Science Friday

Don't Enlighten Your Pets

While their humans can take safety precautions and make good use of tools for a safe, happy eclipse, pets don't have hands and have a hard time with eclipse glasses. Jennie Willis, an animal behavior expert with Colorado State University, has some tips to keep your animal safe.

  1. Credit Ashley Jefcoat / KUNC
    Eclipse glasses black out normal light, so animals are particularly uncomfortable with them. Bring your pets inside to help keep them safe.
      Leave your pet indoors, curtains drawn and with some lights on. This will be less confusing for your furry friend, who won't understand why it's so dark outside.
  2. If you are heading out to see the eclipse, leave your pet at home. Events will be crowded and the whole thing is very confusing for animals. They're much safer on the couch.
  3. If you do go outside, keep your dog on a leash. Animals can behavior abnormally during an eclipse. If Fido decides that it's time for to the zoomies, a leash will keep her close by.
  4. Don't encourage your pets to look at the sun. While animals generally don't spend their time looking up at the sun on a normal day, pets -- especially dogs -- tend to look at what their humans are looking at. They don't like headgear and are likely to try and remove any sort of protective eyewear you attach. Try to use a toy or some other distraction to keep their head down during the main event.
  5. If you have birds, cover their cages. Birds are very sensitive to changes in light and an eclipse could be very traumatic for them.

Historically, We've Always Been Excited About Eclipses

For a little history on eclipse mania, check out Assistant News Director Erin O'Toole's interview with author and historian Steve Ruskin about how the 1878 total solar eclipse changed the fabric and culture of the "Wild West." Go a little further back in history with arts reporter Stacy Nick's look at what scientists now believe is an ancient people's interpretation of a solar eclipse.

Totality Is Where It's At...

NASA is extending the eclipse for science by flying jets along the path of totality. Those who have spent a considerable amount of time in totality say it can be a life-changing experience. In 600 million years, totality will no longer be possible -- so don't miss your chance, earthlings. When totality is hitting farmlands in the Great Plains and Midwest, scientists are going to see if animals really do act strangely.

If you’re not a science buff, check out this solar-powered artists’ excited outlook on what might happen when the sun disappears.

...But Don't Make Your Plans Spontaneously

The Colorado Department of Transportation is cautioning people against making last-minute plans to travel north for the path of totality because of traffic. Starting this weekend, they're expecting at least 400,000 people to head north.

You can get text alerts on ongoing traffic situations happening by texting "eclipse" to 888777.

If You Stay Home, Music And Movies Can Set The Mood

KUNC’s sister station, The Colorado Sound, will be rocking some lunar tunes while the eclipse is scheduled to happen over Colorado. NPR has you covered if you’re looking for movies where an eclipse features prominently.

Credit Little Shop of Horrors / Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.