If you have faith in the forecast, the day of the eclipse will be warm.

And most importantly, partly sunny.

A high near 90 degrees. Winds from the south.

If you have faith in predictability, your morning will be like most Monday mornings.

The sun will rise in the east, there will be school traffic and office chatter and start-of-the work-week blues.

But hotels will be uncommonly full, and you’ll be able to buy special eclipse doughnuts at Krispy Kreme and join the party atop Barry’s Bar and Grill — one of CNN’s top-seven rooftop eclipse-viewing spots in the country.

If you’re a school student, you’ll have your own eclipse glasses and a lesson in astronomy.

If you have a boss like Jay Miller, you and your entire dental office will walk outside when the sky begins to dim, and have a picnic and watch the sun disappear as the solar eclipse sweeps across the continental U.S. at 1,594 mph.

The moon’s shadow will begin to darken Lincoln at 11:37 a.m., though imperceptibly; without your glasses, you won’t notice the early stages of its march across the sun for more than a hour.

Unless you look down, at the shadows of trees, said Rebecca Harbison, an astronomer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The narrow gaps between leaves will become lenses, focusing images of the partially eclipsed sun on the ground.

The blanket of darkness will begin to cover Lincoln at 12:45 p.m., but pay attention to the remaining light. It won’t look like dusk, reddened by the setting sun. The color won’t change, and the shadows will be crisp.

Look west of the sun, and you’ll see Venus. Jupiter will emerge low in the east.

Streetlights will come on, though maybe not as bright as during true night.

The temperature will drop, and winds may shift.

The season’s remaining fireflies will likely report for duty, joined in their confusion by other nighttime insects, said Jim Kalisch, a UNL entomologist.

That could mean a midday soundtrack of singing cicadas and chirping crickets, and spiders beginning to spin the webs they’d normally start spinning at sunset.

This is all hypothetical, he warned. But it would make sense for insects that take their cue from the light, and the dark, to follow their instincts.

And if that happens, daylight bugs could be bewildered, too. Bees and wasps and other pollinators believing it’s time to head home for the day.

Birds could begin to roost, and animals active during the day could get ready for night.

“We expect some zoo animals to want to go to their bedrooms at 1 p.m.,” said John Chapo, director of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.

And the zoo won’t take chances with others. They’ll move some animals, like the primates, safely inside. “Just in case they’re curious enough and begin staring at the sun.”

At 1 p.m., just minutes before totality, more stars and planets will appear. But keep your protected eyes on the sun, to watch the last bit of light swallowed by the moon. If you’re on a hill, you may see the moon’s shadow sweep across the land from the west.

And at 1:02 in Lincoln, the 84-second show of a lifetime begins.

Take off your eclipse glasses. Look up at the brilliant outer atmosphere of the sun. Mercury to the east. Mars to the west.

See the dark in the middle of the day.

Like a lens cap has snapped shut over the sun, wrote essayist Annie Dillard.

“The second before the sun went out we saw a wall of dark shadow come speeding at us,” wrote Dillard, who watched a 1979 solar eclipse on a crowded hillside near Yakima, Washington. “We no sooner saw it than it was upon us, like thunder.”

Dillard describes screaming, and hearing others scream. “... I pray you will never see anything more awful in the sky,” she wrote.

Jack Dunn felt otherwise. The former director of UNL's Mueller Planetarium saw his first eclipse in 1970, when he was a recent Nebraska grad and a curator at a planetarium in Louisiana.

In a field full of eclipse-viewers, most of them amateur astronomers, he bumped into Earl Moser of Hickman, and they waited together for it to approach.

“Of course, there was great anticipation as totality grew closer in time. When the shadow approached you could even sense it behind some clouds,” he wrote. “Totality is an amazing and otherworldly experience. But it is also over way too fast.”

He knows people who collect eclipses. He only has one — but will get his second Monday.

“My chaser friends all say — see it with those close to you. I agree. You want to share this rare natural wonder.”

Lee Thomas of Lincoln shared it with travelers on the Orient Express in 2008, all of them stepping off at the seaside in Russia to see the sun disappear.

He watched thousands of sand crabs scuttle away when day turned to night. He watched bands of shadow appear on the earth.

Put away your camera and your telescope, he says. “Take in the world around you.”

After Monday, you will understand, he said. “It’s difficult to describe in words.”

Your body might react, said Kate Russo, an eclipse chaser from Australia, who helped Ravenna and Lincoln and Grand Island plan for totality.

You might feel goosebumps. Your hair might raise on the back of your neck. You might feel euphoric.

“It makes you feel insignificant,” Russo told Adventure.com. “You feel part of something bigger and connected to humanity.”

And then it’s over.

One side of the corona starts to brighten. A pink flash may appear as the next layer of the sun’s atmosphere appears.

Put your glasses back on or look away.

Watch the world return to normal, everything scrolling backward like a film rewinding. Followed by the light coming back up on an ordinary Monday.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter.


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