By now, you've probably - hopefully - heard that there's a total solar eclipse to watch out for on 21 August this year. Dubbed the 'Great American Eclipse', it's the first such event travelling coast to coast across the United States since 1918 and everyone is super excited.
Naturally, NASA has been using this excitement to do some quality public engagement, and last night they even hosted a science Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit, featuring six actual NASA scientists. There were a lot of valuable scientific queries, but plenty of stuff on the lighter side, too. Below are some of our favourite tidbits.
1. Will I really go blind? Really?
You certainly don't want to be looking directly at the sun, ever - but some people still have their doubts.
Contact me in braille after you are done with the experiment. Seriously, do not attempt this experiment. You can look at it during the 1.5 minutes of totality, but be careful to look away the moment the light gets brighter. Not kidding. Look away instantly.
To a similar query, astronomer Bill Cooke told the cautionary tale of his own unfortunate eye damage:
You can damage your eyes without feeling pain. I know because I have a scar on my retina from not getting my eye protection back on at the end of totality during the 1979 eclipse. Please don't follow my example!
So yes, do wear proper eye protection.
2. Are my animals going to go blind? Or freak out?
One person was really worried about their horses, hoping that they wouldn't look directly at the sky:
Dumb question....do animals suffer eye damage during a total eclipse? Do they even care to look into the sky? The reason I ask is because I have a couple horses that live outside 24/7 and I don't want to be slapped with a major vet bill on the 22nd.
As it turns out, NASA's Bill Cooke has actually experienced a solar eclipse together with a pasture full of horses, and they did not go blind - just ran around a bit, in confusion. Phew.
Several people mentioned animals, and it's actually a really interesting topic - researchers encourage people to take note on how animals are behaving during the eclipse, because it's one of those subjects that's tricky to study due to its rarity.
3. WHAT IF THERE ARE CLOUDS?
As with any phenomenon that involves staring a clear sky, the worst thing that can happen is cloud cover. Having direct access to scientists from NASA, some Reddit users were keen to just get the weather report from them. Okay then.
But we did learn from Bill Cooke that if you're in the path of totality and there are clouds, you'll still get something.
"It will get dark if you're in the path of totality! But it is a weird dark," he wrote.