Tomorrow, 7.5 million people will crowd a 70-mile-wide, 2800-mile-long strip of land as the moon blocks the sun’s light for somewhere around two minutes. The sky will turn dark, the several million-degree solar corona will become visible, and the stars will appear in the middle of the day.
All that is, of course, if it’s clear out. “It might get cloudy, even in the driest place,” Angela Speck, Director of Astronomy at the University of Missouri told Gizmodo. But have no fear. “It will still get dark.”
Even if the clouds block the sun wherever you’re watching the (total) eclipse (sorry, partial eclipse viewers, this advice is not for you), there are ways to enjoy its effects. You’ll just have to get creative.
Speck first noted that you could likely drive to a new location, given the amount of America under the eclipse’s path. But much of the country expects insane traffic jams, so simply driving to a new spot might not be an option.
You might still be able to look at how plants and animals react to the darkened sky. “The plants are going to respond just as well as if it was a full sunny day,” Tim Reinbott, Assistant Director at the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of the Missouri told Gizmodo. Maybe the drought-stricken corn will open up, or flowers will close as if it’s night. Instead of looking up, look down.
You can always rely on your other senses as well. Perhaps birds’ calls or other animal sounds will change to prepare for the nightfall. “Even insects. We have a lot of cicadas chirping in the evening,” said Reinbott. “It will be interesting. Some people don’t think it will be long enough for the insects to start, others do. Just close your eyes and listen to what happens.
You should also be able to feel the temperature difference as the sky goes dark. It won’t be as drastic as it would be on a sunny day, but things should get cooler, explained Jeffrey Wood, also from the University of Missouri.
But most importantly, NASA will have a livestream. It’s not quite the same thing, but hey, at least you’ll get to see something.
Anyway, if you’re clouded out tomorrow, not everything is lost—things will still be weird. But, said Scott McIntosh, director of the High Altitude Observatory at the National Center for Atmospheric research, “if you’re not clouded out, it will be a seminal moment in your life.” So better cross your fingers.