Just before ten o’clock on the morning of the 11th of August the moon will take a small bite out of the sun. Gradually, over the course of the following hour, this sliver of darkness will grow, as more and more of the sun disappears behind the moon.
As more disappears the process will speed up. Refraction through the Earth’s atmosphere may cause ‘shadow bands’, faint lines of light, to race across the grounds, like the shadows of scudding clouds. As the total eclipse approaches darkness will begin to rise from the western horizon.
The whole country will begin to enter this false night. Birds will stop singing, animals go to sleep, flowers close up. A supernatural hush will fall. As the peaks of the mountains on the moon begin to reach the edge of the suns disk, bright points of light will appear along the edge of the shadow, seen through the valleys between the mountains, known as Bailey’s Beads. One by one these will disappear, eventually leaving just one, the ‘diamond ring’ effect.
When this bead disappears totality has set in and it is possible to look at the eclipse with the naked eye. And there it will be: ‘The Eye of God’, the black silhouette of the moon surrounded by the flaring corona of the hidden sun.
During totality many planets should be visible, including Venus just to the east and Mercury to the west of the sun and moon, and Jupiter and Saturn away towards the western horizon.
When Bailey’s Beads begin to reappear on the other side of the shadow, then it is time to resume viewing the spectacle through a safe viewer once more, totality has ended and the eclipse will begin to reverse itself.