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The total solar eclipse 2017 gets weird

Just hours before the moon blocks out the sun in a traveling celestial show across the US, things are already getting strange.

solar-eclipse

It's eclipse eve and it's getting weird.

NASA

Wyoming, the least populous state in the US, is about to see its population double, literally overnight, as eclipse fans flood the college town of Laramie to see the solar eclipse that will sweep across the nation Monday -- and Laramie's not even in the path of totality.

State officials are expecting over half a million people to visit Wyoming for the historic coast-to-coast eclipse, a figure roughly equal to the permanent population there.

It's possible that those visitors could bring a little weirdness with them -- one rumor going around Cheyenne tells of a group of international tourists staying at a resort in the city with plans to head north to an unknown location within the path of totality on Monday. That location will see couples attempt to conceive a child during the eclipse. Apparently, the belief is that it's good luck for a child to be conceived under such conditions.

I went so far as to visit the resort in question but saw no evidence of large international tour groups. It's possible this rumor grew out of the widely circulated story of a man looking for a partner to conceive with during the eclipse via Craigslist.

Elsewhere, around Wyoming's population centers not in the path of the total eclipse, thousands of cars come flooding over the border from Colorado, and tourists fill restaurants, campgrounds and hotels with activity well above what you'd expect to see on a Sunday night in summer here.

Hardware stores in both Colorado and Wyoming disappoint people seeking sun-blocking eclipse glasses with signs at the door informing customers stocks are sold-out.

Along Interstate 25, the main thoroughfare from the crowded Front Range of Colorado to the path of totality, traffic is a little heavy, but flowing just fine past electronic signboards that warn it could get heavier over the next two days.

While plenty of folks here are planning to head north to see the total eclipse, others seem content to stay in Cheyenne and Laramie, which are expected to see around 98 percent of the sun covered by the moon on Monday. Many are encouraged by the understandable misconception that 98 is almost as much as 100.

Unfortunately, that's not really the case when it comes to a solar eclipse. The brightness of the sun when it is 99 percent covered is several thousands times brighter than when it is fully covered during an eclipse, so that extra 1 percent actually makes for a very different experience.

If you're within striking distance of the path of totality, it might not be too late to experience it first hand. Just be sure to please exercise a little discretion if you plan to conceive a lucky child somewhere along the path.

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