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The path the eclipse will take across the United States on August 21.
Image via NASA
The coming total solar eclipse will pass from Oregon to South Carolina. It's the first time the U.S. has experienced a total solar eclipse since 1918, when the umbra started in Washington state and passed over Denver, Jackson, Mississippi, and Orlando, Florida, before leaving via the Atlantic coast.
As the time approaches for the total solar eclipse on August 21, people are preparing in all sorts of ways, whether that translates to ordering pairs of solar eclipse glasses or to getting ready for the end of the world. Or just worrying over all kinds of things that might happen when the moon passes between the earth and the sun in just such a way as to blot out the light of the sun for a small period of time along one narrow, 70-mile-wide track across the United States, called the path of totality.
NASA has anticipated Americans would have many questions, so the federal space agency got a bunch of its scientists together this week for an AskMeAnything on Reddit to allow people to fire away.
The results were glorious.
Some people asked very specific questions and got helpful and fascinating answers, like this one about how to film "shadow bands," which elicited excellent information on exactly how to do so:
And some people were concerned about what their animals will do during the eclipse and whether they needed to invest in solar eclipse glasses for the squirrels, dogs, horses and other creatures who might be innocent bystanders while the sun is hidden by the moon:
This question in no way flummoxed the scientists:
The scientists also weighed in on questions about whether it's worth a drive to be in the path of the total eclipse (yes, the scientists concurred) and whether people who are not in the path of the total eclipse will be able to notice a difference (not really).
And then there was the most popular query, about whether or not someone looking at an eclipse without eclipse glasses will actually go blind. The answer? A resounding yes:
And, because we live in a world where some people really do still believe that the Earth is flat, NASA scientists also fielded questions on that front. Seriously:
And the response:
Because NASA scientists saddled up to ask questions, but they never agreed to not be hilarious in their answers.