Later today, the sky will darken as the moon passes in front of the sun during the first total solar eclipse to touch the continental United States in 38 years. The wispy corona—the sun's atmosphere—will be visible with the naked eye, and you might even be able to see tendrils of plasma that branch out from the sun's surface into space called solar prominences.
And you will also be able to see four of the solar system's planets in sky: Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. As the total eclipse begins and the skies darken, the stars and planets come out as though it were night. For the roughly 2 minutes of totality, you will be able to see the night sky in the middle of the day, and during this eclipse, the positions of four planets happen to be in the same part of the sky as the eclipsed sun will be.
The charts above and blow, made with the night sky program , show the relative positions of four planets and many of the brightest stars in the sky, all of which will be visible during totality. Venus and Jupiter will be brightest in the sky, positioned away from the eclipsed sun to the top right and lower left, relatively. Venus will come out first, brighter than any of the stars, about 15 to 30 minutes before totality. Mercury, to the bottom left, and Mars, to the top right, will be closer to the eclipsed sun, but dimmer and harder to spot. Mars will have a reddish orange hue, however, which will help it stand out from the other objects in the sky.
Many bright stars will be visible too, such as Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, which will appear to the southwest of the sun. Arcturus will come out to the east of the sun, and Capella to the northwest.
The total solar eclipse will bring many wonders, from to . But perhaps one of the most amazing things will be the night sky suddenly coming out in the middle of the day.