Bizarre things happen to the environment and animals during a total solar eclipse -- here's what to look out for

Solar eclipsePicture: Getty Images

The US will get to see a solar eclipse on August 21. 

While the entire country will get to witness at least a partial eclipse, the lucky people who live along or travel to the 140km-wide streak of totality will see the moon completely block out the sun’s light as it crosses between the Earth and the sun

For those who will be able to watch the total solar eclipse in person, there’s plenty to see up in the sky. (Those who can’t can watch it on NASA’s Facebook page, live.)

But there are also some unexpected phenomena that happen on the ground during the eclipse. 

Here are some of the things to keep an eye out for. 

The shadows you cast will start to get sharper than they usually are.

Photo: Getty Images

If you're nearby wildlife, you might see some animals get anxious. Birds might fall silent during totality, and plants might think it's night and start to close up.

Photo: Getty Images

The temperature might feel cooler as the sunlight gets less intense.

Children use special glasses to look into the sky during a partial solar eclipse in Madrid, Spain. Picture: Getty Images

You'll be able to see the partial eclipse reflected in the trees. The leaves act as filter, safely projecting the eclipse.

The moon's shadow will be visible in the west, especially if you're on a hill. Littman and Espenek describe the shadow as 'the granddaddy of thunderstorms but utterly calm.'

A minute or so before and after totality, you might be able to see a phenomenon called 'shadow bands.' The ripples of light look almost like the reflection at the bottom of a pool, but they come from the Earth's atmosphere refracting the few rays of sunlight that peek through before and after totality. Here's a video of it in action.

YouTube/Michael Zeiler

Depending on where you are during totality, it could look like the twilight that comes right after the sunset, or it might get so dark you're not able to read. But it won't be exactly like nighttime, according to Littman and Espenek. Here's what Business Insider's Dave Mosher saw on a flight through a solar eclipse in 2008:

You might even be able to see stars and planets during totality. According to, you could spot Venus and Jupiter, depending on where you are in the US, along with stars Sirius and Regulus.

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