Millions of Americans paused what they were doing on Aug. 21, unabashedly slapped on some very creative-looking eyewear and peered up at the sky to experience the very first coast-to-coast solar eclipse since 1918. For those of you who were too busy — or too iffy about your cardboard sunglass-making skills — to catch the moment, there's plenty of footage to go around, including some Twitter photos of eclipse shadows that are honestly downright magical.
The crazy effect is called a "shadow band." Scientists still can't completely explain why they occur before and after a solar eclipse, but according to NASA,
"The intensity, motion and direction of these bands seems to be related to the same phenomenon that makes stars twinkle. In the upper atmosphere there are turbulent cells of air that act like lenses to focus and de-focus the sharp-edged light from the solar surface just before totality."
If the above scientific lingo goes a little over your head, you can still definitely, definitely appreciate the complete beauty of these mysterious shadow bands.
People took to Twitter to share their pictures and videos from the aftermath of the eclipse – and some seemed potentially more excited by the little dancing shadows than the eclipse itself. Multiple people suggested that the unexpected shadows were the most interesting part of the day.
To be fair, the photos are actually pretty incredible.
This happy bonus surprise is probably going to now double the mania that will inevitably go down once the next solar eclipse comes around (which incidentally, won't be until 2024). Would it even be safe to say that from now on the shadow bands will manage to upstage the eclipse itself ?
I mean, probably not completely, but at the very least they'll definitely go toe-to-toe with those pictures of Donald Trump staring directly into the sun.