There has been a lot written about the total solar eclipse that will occur on August 21, 2017, but did you know that there will also be plenty of strange and fantastic phenomena that will accompany this eclipse? For those who want to make sure that they witness the solar eclipse in its totality, the path of the 2017 total solar eclipse will meander through 12 states along a 2,500-mile stretch of land from Oregon to South Carolina.
In these places, viewers will be able to witness totality for up to two minutes and 41.6 seconds, as the Inquisitr reported. It is in these spots that you will want to be if you wish to see the marvelously odd things that occur with each total solar eclipse, although some of them you will still be able to spot even if you are in other states in which you will only see a partial solar eclipse.
One very interesting phenomenon that you will notice during the 2017 total solar eclipse will happen before totality is reached and when the sun is still only partially obscured by the moon. Find a tree near you and glance down at the ground toward the shadow that is cast by the tree. Depending on the size of the tree, you could see up to thousands of tiny little crescent-shaped slivers of the sun’s shadow on the ground. This occurs due to the gaps in the leaves of the tree which cause the tree to behave almost like a pinhole camera, according to PetaPixel.
During the solar eclipse, tree leaves act as pinhole lenses, casting crescent-shaped images of the eclipsed sun. pic.twitter.com/P5m1jpRKLV
— British Photography (@GBPhotoAwards) September 2, 2016
Another exciting thing that viewers will be able to witness during the 2017 total solar eclipse will be something called shadow bands. This strange sight can be seen for up to 60 to 120 seconds before totality begins and after totality ends. The best way to view shadow bands, according to NASA, is by placing white sheets of paper on the ground, although they can still be seen without them as long as you find another white or very light, flat object to gaze at.
Shadow bands will appear as dark, thin objects that race around on the surface of light objects right before and after total solar eclipses, almost like tiny snakes dashing back and forth or moving slivers of sunshine found at the bottom of a pool. These bands occur because of atmospheric turbulence and the strength of their visibility is different with each eclipse.
During the 2017 total solar eclipse, you will also be able to view planets that are difficult to see in the daylight such as Mercury, which is normally obscured by the brightness of the sun. Venus, Mars, and Jupiter will also make an appearance, according to Space, with Mars and Mercury appearing closest to the sun. Even though many people will be excited to see these planets, the astronomer George Lovi once wrote that he despaired of eclipse viewers choosing to gaze at planets and stars instead of the eclipse itself.
“One solar eclipse activity I hope to see less of is the sometimes-ridiculous effort to hunt down stars and planets during totality. Some devotees spend virtually all those precious minutes searching! I can’t, for the life of me, imagine how this compares to the main event. And I speak as a lifelong aficionado of observing out-of-season or otherwise ‘strange’ stars.”
— UCD Spec Collections (@ucdspeccoll) May 4, 2017
If viewers of the 2017 total solar eclipse are really lucky, they will be able to see eruptions of the sun which couldn’t normally be witnessed at any other time. These are known as solar prominences. While the solar corona can normally be seen during total solar eclipses, it is actually much more rare to be able to see the prominences, according to Space. The very first definitive written observation that we have of this occurrence comes from a solar eclipse which occurred on May 1, 1185.
“On the first day of the month of May, on the day of the Saint Prophet Jeremiah, on Wednesday, during the evening service, there was a sign in the Sun. It became very dark, even the stars could be seen; it seemed to men as if everything were green, and the Sun became like a crescent of the Moon, from the horns of which a glow similar to that of red-hot charcoals was emanating. It was terrible to see this sign of the Lord.”
If you are lucky enough to be able to see solar prominences, you will be gifted with the view of a gorgeous ruby red color around the limb of the moon.
Whatever you happen to be doing on August 21, 2017, make sure you take the opportunity to step outside to view the total solar eclipse so that you can witness all of the unusual phenomena that surround this spectacular event.
[Featured Image by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images]