It's the final countdown to the eclipse and America's getting hyped.

For the first time in 38 years, an eclipse is going to hit the lower 48 states. People. Are. Getting. Hyped.

The eclipse will occur on Monday, Aug. 21, and pass over 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Image from NASA/Goddard/SVS/Ernie Wright.


Though there's a solar eclipse every 18 months, a total solar eclipse crossing the continental United States in such a perfect line is rare — in fact, it hasn't happened since 1918, though we'll get another chance in 2024.  The Atlantic has even pegged this as the greatest human migration to see a natural event in U.S. history.

It makes sense that people are making hay while the sun shines — or doesn't shine, as it were. Such a momentous, gigantic, joyous, literally astronomical event is expected to draw out millions of science-loving humans.

Check out a few of the most delightful, surprising, creative, and flat-out fun ways people are preparing to celebrate the occasion.

Some are throwing parties. Huge parties. We're talking religious-festival-with-15,000-people-sized parties.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Hopkinsville, Kentucky, will have one of the best views of the eclipse in the nation — so it's throwing a three-day festival called Solquest. Dedicated to witnessing "God's glory and his majesty," organizers are planning for live music, speakers, and prayer.

Meanwhile, Hopkinsville local Griffin Moore is stocking up her studio with plenty of solar-themed merch.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Her shop is one of many in town getting ready to capitalize on a giant influx of tourists.

Of course, no eclipse shindig would be complete without some custom, solar-themed hooch.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Married duo A.J. Casey Jones and Peg Hays have cooked up some Total Eclipse Moonshine in commemoration of the event. They forecast that 3,500 people will show up at their business, the Casey Jones Distillery.

Meanwhile, the local Singing Fork Baptist Church got some cheeky advertising ideas out of the event.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

And eclipse glasses are suddenly the must-have fashion accessory of the season.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Don't worry if you can't find any (and if you do, make sure they're legit) — there are still plenty of ways to safely watch, like building your own old-school pinhole projector.

NASA's just as keen on watching the eclipse as everyone else, though their equipment's a bit more ... sophisticated.

Photo from NASA's Johnson Space Center/Norah Moran.

The legendary aeronautics agency will use jets to chase the eclipse, stretching the two-and-a-half-minute event into a lengthy seven minutes. Their cameras will record images of the sun's corona, or outer atmosphere.

Over in Montana, they'll be celebrating by releasing giant bacteria-laden balloons into the atmosphere.

Photo from Montana State University.

Researchers at Montana State University have teamed up with NASA to launch some sky-high experiments. NASA's funding a total of 11 different science projects across the nation.

Astrologers, meanwhile, say the eclipse could foretell big things for President Trump, although they were light on specifics.

Zookeepers in Omaha are going to find out whether their giraffes know more about eclipses than they do.

A dog in England during the 2015 eclipse. Photo from Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images.

From bees to chickens, animals sometimes act a little wacky when the sky goes dark. During past eclipses, people have reported that birds stopped singing. Elephants headed for their sleeping areas. Chimpanzees stared confusedly at the sky.

So zoos and aquariums in the path of totality, including the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, will be keeping an eye on their animals.

And in the West, Oregon's already experiencing some ridiculous traffic jams.

People aren't just traveling by car either. 63-year-old Gary Parkerson of Louisiana is planning to bike all the way up to Nashville in order to get the very best views.

And plenty of people are taking their solar viewing party to the great outdoors. Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is predicting their busiest day ever.

The eclipse will cross over 21 different national parks. They're all sure to be packed.

All over the United States, scientists and the faithful, zookeepers and wild beasts, hooch-makers and police officers are coming together for a once-in-a-lifetime (OK, maybe twice-in-a-lifetime) historic event.

Listen, it's been a hard week. Hard year, really. But this is going to be really special and it's cool to see people getting hyped up. So get hyped up too. This is going to be awesome.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less