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The Atmosphere During a Solar Eclipse

March 07, 2024

Earth is the only rocky planet that has total solar eclipses.

Venus and Mercury don't have moons and Mars's two moons are too small and not at the right distance to completely block out the disk of the Sun. Therefore, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we're able to experience this phenomenon.

The reason a total solar eclipse can happen is that the moon is 400 times smaller in diameter than the Sun and is 400 times closer to us, allowing it to completely block the Sun – something we will all experience on April 8, 2024, at 3:12 pm.

The moment totality hits –when the moon fully covers the Sun– the atmosphere around us completely changes. Within seconds a sudden dawn or dusk-like darkness falls over the sky, parting clouds and allowing stars and planets to become visible from where we stand on Earth.

As you watch, you’ll feel the air around you cool as the winds quiet and temperatures drop.

Animals begin to think it's bedtime causing many crickets to start chirping. Chickens might settle into their coops, bees could return to their hives and horses and cows will move toward their stables.

As the daytime darkness envelops us on Earth, you will hear a typical dusk serenade of songbirds as they retire to bed. But as the sky lightens again, they’ll interpret the experience as morning and begin their dawn chorus.

Totality only lasts 1 minute and 54 seconds in Toledo. As it ends, the atmosphere and weather will change back to daytime within seconds.

When that happens, make sure to take a moment to look up at the sky and all the people around you. Think about how big the universe is. How small we are in comparison. And how lucky we are to experience a solar eclipse and the eclipse environment.