Cool things are afoot before and after totality. Although the big payoff is the exact lineup of the sun, the moon, and your location, keep your eyes open during the partial phases that lead up to and follow it. As you view the beginning through a safe solar filter, the universe will set your mind at ease when you see the moon take the first notch out of the sun’s disk. Around the three-quarters mark, you’ll start to notice that shadows are getting sharper. The reason is that the sun’s disk is shrinking, literally approaching a point, and a smaller light source produces better-defined shadows. At about 85 percent coverage, someone you’re with will see Venus 34 degrees west-northwest of the sun. If any trees live at your site, you may see their leaves act like pinhole cameras as hundreds of crescent suns appear in their shadows.