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The Critical Angle: What to expect now the eclipse is *OVER*

It’s only gonna get weirder ….

The celestial drama has completed, and against all odds, none of us were eaten by demons! Who could have predicted? Well, anyone, really.

The orbital mechanics that produce total eclipses of the Sun, like the one that cut a swatch of darkness across the United States Monday, are very easily understood, and can be calculated to incredible precision. A lot of the fun things people in the path of totality got to experience could be predicted, too.

Astronomically-Caused, Physical Effects

CNET recently ran down a bunch of the weird stuff that can happen during a total solar eclipse, including a creepy, 360 degree sunset, across the entire horizon. Unsurprisingly, animals can get confused, and a lucky person in the right spot might even see Bailey’s beads, which are “pearls of sunlight shining through the valleys and mountains of the moon,” that may appear reddish in color.

“Rainbows” can be seen in the Sun’s outermost layer, the corona, if it’s been a rainy day. Photo from NASA, via CNET.

Even if you only experience a PARTIAL solar eclipse, like I did in New Jersey, a cloudless day seems to get dimmer, the temperature can drop slightly, and man, do those shadows look weird. They’re like little semi-circles! Or maybe Moon Knight’s crescent darts? Makes sense.

Photo by ME!

Psychology-Caused, Physical Effects

While not as black and white as cold, hard numbers, during a solar eclipse, you can predict people’s behavior pretty well, too. No matter how many times you say it, some people just won’t listen to reason and will look directly at the damn Sun, thinking they’re the exception to the THIS THING BURNS YOUR RETINAS rule.

So you can expect reports of eye injuries to start rolling in now, despite voluminous warnings that they could have easily be prevented.

Inattention is a common cause of car accidents, and needless to say, the Moon blotting out the Sun can make for some seriously distracted driving. Bustle’s already compiled several such instances, although it seems like the main cause of death actually tends to be PEDESTRIANS not paying attention when a vehicle loses control. Either way, once in a lifetime occurrence or not, it’s always best to just keep your eyes on road.

Spotted on New York’s FDR Drive by Craig Sachs

Expect more of these tragic reports to come.

Psychology-Caused, PARANORMAL Effects?!

Oh yeah, you better believe this is coming, too. You really think with all those people looking at the sky, we won’t be slammed with new UFO reports?

It happens whenever more people than usual are looking up — celestial events, space-related technology, whatever — because they’re seeing things they don’t usually, and might not be well-versed in identifying them. It’ll happen even MORE this time, because there were genuinely unusual things in sky, in the form of four planets you can’t normally see during the day. Weird shadows and phenomena on top of that? Prepare for the deluge.

In certain place more than others, of course, as shown by data visualizer John Nelson, who felt the need to overlay the path of the eclipse on a map of already reported sightings. For those who want the total cosmic experience! To be fair, it was a gag in response to NASA’s own Joshua Stevens’ map of the eclipse coupled with BIGFOOT sightings.

Don’t laugh! Again, these are reports of PREVIOUS sightings, but it’s not far-fetched to think formerly Bigfoot-prone areas might drum up more mistaken identities when s--t goes sideways. A lot of Bigfoot sightings under NORMAL conditions turn out to just be bears — cover one in weird shadows and lighting when everyone is already freaked out, and you’ve got 23 minutes on Animal Planet all set.

Sadly, and yes, maybe predictably, South Carolina’s LIZARDMAN was a no-show, despite some playful needling by the state’s Emergency Management Department that he might reappear after a two-year absence. Which is just silly, of course — lizards actually get less active when the Sun goes down.

Truth is Stranger ….

One thing you definitely shouldn’t expect reports of following the U.S. total solar eclipse of 2017 is sightings of DC Comics’ nigh-omnipotent supervillain, Eclipso. Not only is he admittedly fictional, but thanks to numerous retcons and rejiggers, the demigod now has little to do with actual goddamn eclipses anymore. I’d say go read Wikepedia to catch up, but the continuity might even be too complicated for NASA-level data visualizers to handle.

The Critical Angle is a recurring feature that uses critical thinking and skepticism to analyze pop culture phenomena. Skepticism is an approach to evaluating claims that emphasizes evidence and applies the tools of science. While it’s often applied to claims of the paranormal, skepticism can be used when considering just about anything.

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