On August 21, 2017, millions of people across the United States will see nature’s most wondrous spectacle — a total eclipse of the Sun. It is a scene of unimaginable beauty; the Moon completely blocks the Sun, daytime becomes a deep twilight, and the Sun’s corona shimmers in the darkened sky. This is your guide to understand, prepare for, and view this beautiful celestial event.
Will the Great American Eclipse make animals and people act strangely? Science says yes.
It’s not just humans who will be affected by the Great American Eclipse coming on Aug. 21 — expect animals to act strangely too.
Anecdotal evidence and a few scientific studies suggest that as the moon moves briefly between the sun and the Earth, causing a deep twilight to fall across the land, large swaths of the animal kingdom will alter their behavior.
Eclipse chasers say they have seen songbirds go quiet, large farm animals lie down, crickets start to chirp and chickens begin to roost.
Elise Ricard, public programs supervisor at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, recalled the eerie silence that accompanied the start of a total eclipse early on a June morning in 2012.
“I was sitting on a beach with my back to the jungle, and if you know anything about jungles, they are not usually quiet,” she said. “But to suddenly hear all those noisy birds get quiet as the eclipse got close, that was a powerful sensory experience.”
Doug Duncan, director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has had a few strange run-ins with animals over his many years of eclipse chasing.
In the video below he describes seeing a line of llamas gather together to see a total eclipse with him and his fellow astronomers in Bolivia.
When he was viewing a different eclipse from a boat near the Galapagos Islands, he saw dozens of whales and dolphins swim to the surface of the ocean five minutes before the eclipse began. They hung out there until five minutes after the eclipse, before returning to the watery depths, he recalled.