For those who will be witnessing totality during the Great American Eclipse on Monday, you’re in for a real treat: Not only will you see the sun completely blocked by the new moon — so long as it’s not cloudy — but it will get eerily dark. Birds may become confused or stop flying. And if you know where to look, you may even be able to spot a hidden planet.
That so-called “hidden” planet is Mercury, which is hard to see regularly, based on its proximity to the sun.
“Most of the year, it’s just too close to the sun,” meteorologist Paul Gross said.
The light from the sun usually blots out our view, especially considering how small Mercury is. But remember: during totality on Monday, the moon will blot out the sun’s light.
This allows eclipse-gazers to look at up to four planets with the naked eye, along with constellations that are usually only visible in the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere.
If you know where to look, not only might you spot Mercury, but also possibly Venus, Mars and Jupiter.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, created a video that shows a map and where to look.
Remember, unless you live within totality, or you travel to visit somewhere under totality, you won’t see any so-called “hidden” planets, or the completely covered sun. Most of the country will see a partial eclipse on Monday.
Keep in mind, you’ll still need protective eyewear purchased or provided by a reliable source, regardless of whether you’re planning on viewing totality or the partial eclipse. If you’re seeing totality, you can remove the glasses only for the 2 to 3 minutes the sun is completely covered. You still need to use the eyewear for the times before and after that point.
Those viewing a partial eclipse will need to keep their glasses on the entire time.