People Are Losing Their Heads Over the Eclipse. Not Literally This Time

What to expect when total solar eclipse hits US for 1st time in 99 years
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2017 1:58 PM CDT
People Are Losing Their Heads Over the Eclipse. Not Literally This Time
This March 9, 2016 photo shows a total solar eclipse in Belitung, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/File)

On Monday, the US will have a view of a total solar eclipse for the first time in 99 years. We know that thanks to the hard, sometimes-life-risking work of astronomers over thousands of years. In a history of eclipse predictions, BuzzFeed reports two Chinese astronomers were beheaded by the emperor after failing to predict a total solar eclipse in 2134 BCE. Their failure could perhaps be forgiven—it would be nearly 4,000 years before astronomers were able to start making reliable ground maps of eclipses. Here's what else you need to know about the upcoming celestial show:

  • 24/7 Wall St. is warning of massive traffic jams as up to 7 million people travel to the 70-mile-wide strip stretching from Oregon to South Carolina where the total eclipse will be visible.
  • And that can mean headaches for some small towns in that strip, the Guardian reports. "Why is God mad at us?" asks the mayor of Weiser, a tiny Idaho town of 5,500 that is expecting up to 70,000 for the eclipse but was only able to procure 70 port-a-potties for their use.
  • But human behavior researchers tell the New York Times a total solar eclipse is worth braving the crowds to view alongside other people. It makes the experience more emotional and provides a way to connect with others, even for a few minutes.
  • One thing that can make massive crowds more tolerable: alcohol. The Daily Beast provides a "drinker's guide" to the eclipse, including a distiller in Oregon selling 97-proof eclipse whiskey and a winery in Illinois that bottled 100 cases of eclipse wine for the 5,000 people it's expecting.
  • Meanwhile, BuzzFeed talks to a bunch of eclipse fanatics to find out what makes total solar eclipses so special. “I feel as if I am in the presence of a deity, and I understand that in this vast universe, I am nothing," one such fanatic explains.
  • Need a soundtrack for your eclipse viewing? Time reports Bonnie Tyler will sing her 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" during Royal Caribbean's Total Eclipse Cruise, which will be positioned in the eclipse's path off the East Coast.
  • At least one person in America isn't planning on viewing Monday's eclipse. According to USA Today, Lou Tomososki of Oregon still has permanent eye damage—a permanent blurry spot in his vision—from staring at a partial eclipse in 1962 without eye protection.
  • Don't be like Lou Tomososki. NPR has a video showing how to make your own eclipse viewer so you can watch the action without burning out your retinas.
(More solar eclipse stories.)

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