What is a total solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. A total solar eclipse is when the moon passes directly inbetween the sun and the earth, and the moon casts a shadow onto the earth.
If the moon’s shadow passes over you (called the path of totality – where the sun is totally blocked) it will block out almost all of the sun’s light causing darkness to fall during the day. A total eclipse causes animals to get confused and start their evening rituals – birds go in to roost, coyotes howl, etc. Plants and flower even start to close up.
If you’re right in the center of the moon’s shadow, you’ll get the darkest, longest experience that can last up to a few minutes.
Total solar eclipses are only sort of rare, but the path of the moon’s shadow is typically out to sea or across Antartica or some other foreign land. The August 2017 solar eclipse path of totality crosses the entire USA – and that is rare. The last time it happened was back in 1918. The next total solar eclipse for the USA is in 2024 but will only sweep across a portion of the eastern USA.