A miracle of nature looms on America’s horizon. On August 21, starting in Oregon, racing in a grand arc across the United States, finally going offshore in South Carolina, a shadow of night will fall in the midst of day. Along the centerline of the solar eclipse’s path, stars will shine at lunchtime. Birds will go crazy. Some people probably will go crazy too. Eleven states will experience the eerie surreality of Totality, but no state in the contiguous 48 will escape the shadow of our first American total solar eclipse since February 26, 1979 – and that one just touched the Pacific Northwest and was mostly hidden behind their famously gray skies.
Meanwhile, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, Little Green People are drooling over UFO travel brochures, dreaming of visiting Earth on August 21. Our giraffes and hummingbirds may be cool, but you can’t beat Earth’s most famous attraction: a total solar eclipse. It is just possible we are the only planet in the galaxy where this particular spectacle is available. Think about it – the Sun and the Moon, even though they look very different, are almost exactly the same visual size. That means that the Moon fits over the Sun almost perfectly. It’s not so small that it’s nothing at all – but also not so big that it blocks out the magnificent solar corona. The odds against striking that happy balance are “astronomical.” Hence those UFO travel brochures.