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Why Scientists Are So Excited About This Solar Eclipse
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20 Mar 2017 05:11 PM EST

Darkness settles in. The soft colors of morning quickly dampen and shadows sharpen. As you look up, the sun transforms into a black hole, winter constellations appear, and the seldom-seen corona — that ghostly halo of light that wraps around the sun's surface — becomes visible. The temperature plummets causing birds to grow quiet, farm animals to shuffle to their barns, and crickets to begin their nightly tune. You're now in the shadow of the moon. On August 21, 2017, that shadow will sweep across North America as millions revel in a total solar eclipse. It's the first one to grace the continental United States since 1979 and the first to run from sea to shining sea since 1918. The shadow will glide across a strip roughly 4,000 kilometers long and 120 kilometers wide of solid and accessible ground. With so much land to cover, many anticipate that it will be the most widely shared event in human history.

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