Upcoming total solar eclipse stirs fears of apocalypse

Man has always looked to the cosmos for answers, with delight, in fear, and for signs.

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On Aug. 21, the boldest sign the universe can bring — a midday midnight — will be on display for millions of people as a total solar eclipse paints a black ribbon across the heavens from coast-to-coast. It's the first to take a path across the United States in 99 years.

It is mechanical, an alignment predictable to the second, an event ripe for scientific study. Yet, it is also an apparition so profound that historically, and even today, a total solar eclipse is considered by some a signal from a higher power, or a harbinger of apocalypse.

"Total eclipses are so phenomenal and so overpowering and so amazing that some people have ascribed a 'super spirituality' to them," said Dan McGlaun, a 12-time total solar eclipse viewer who runs the website Eclipse2017.org.

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"That's why so many cultures have created stories and myths about eclipses throughout history," McGlaun said.

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PALM COVE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14:  Near totality is seen during the solar eclipse at Palm Cove on November 14, 2012 in Palm Cove, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade.  (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
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PALM COVE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: Near totality is seen during the solar eclipse at Palm Cove on November 14, 2012 in Palm Cove, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Credit: Ian Hitchcock

Credit: Ian Hitchcock