It seems that everyone is gearing up for the solar eclipse on Monday. So here are some tips to make the most of your solar eclipse viewing experience.
The moon’s shadow will cross the continental U.S. starting in Oregon, crossing 14 states, and finishing about 93 minutes later in South Carolina. Thankfully most of the weather across the country in August is generally conducive to viewing the eclipse — tropical storms and super cells aside — so millions of people will be taking advantage of the opportunity to view this rare celestial event. If you are traveling to be within the band of totality leave early, even earlier than the early departure you might be planning. There will be lots of traffic — especially if Mother Nature has other plans and clouds begin to form. The real traffic jams will occur when people panic if the spot they have chosen might be cloudy and suddenly decide to drive somewhere else … all at the same time. So check the weather, plan accordingly and arrive early (if not the night before). Also, get your certified solar eclipse glasses or safe shades ahead of time and from a reputable source like your local science center or Amazon Prime. Do not rely on the local mini-mart to have the correct product to protect your eyes. Looking directly at the sun is very dangerous and should not be done without proper viewing protection. You still have time to get them.
SOAK IT IN
The duration of the total eclipse inside the band of totality can be up to nearly 3-minutes. If you are thinking about taking pictures, don’t. Photographing an eclipse is very tricky and requires lots of practice and precision. If you have not already started preparations and begun practicing with the right equipment, fluctuating camera settings, and while wearing lens/eye protection, it’s too late. Don’t waste this incredible opportunity to experience a solar eclipse, especially if you will be in the band of totality. Those precious seconds of totality will be gone before you know it. Fiddling with camera settings while the moon is obscuring the sun is not a great way to remember how you spent your time during the eclipse. Instead, watch it for yourself. Once the moon has completely obscured the sun and the corona is visible, you can safely remove your protective glasses. The stars will be visible, so will Venus just below and to the right. Birds will roost for the shortest night of their lives and the temperature will noticeably drop. If you do decide to take a quick picture, please be considerate and turn off your flash ahead of time. Appreciate the unique serenity of the event and respect the viewing experience of others. Don’t forget to put your eclipse glasses back on once the sun begins to reappear on the other side of the moon as the famous “diamond ring” .
SET YOUR DVR
This will be the most documented eclipse in human history (so far). Any images you wanted of the eclipse will be available online and most likely much better quality that you could have captured. Plus you’ll have your own memories of actually experiencing the eclipse to treasure and share for the rest of your life. However, if you want to relive the experience and see it a whole new way, Discovery’s Science Channel is hosting a special 1-hour program that same Monday night at 9pm EDT with same-day footage of the eclipse as well as live coverage during the event starting at noon EDT for the duration of the event across the country. So watch the live coverage online at www.sciencechannel.com using your phone or tablet in between glimpses of the different phases of the partial eclipse happening above (wearing your protective glasses, of course) to amp up the anticipation of the totality heading your way or while you enjoy the view of the partial eclipse if you are outside the band of totality. It goes without saying that if you are within the band of totality you should be looking up at the eclipse and not at your device once the short period of totality has begun.
Hopefully everyone has blocked out some time during the midday on Monday to experience the event for themselves. The next one is not until 2024 and will cut a path across the Eastern portion of the country starting in Maine and making its way down the Appalachian Mountains and Mississippi until it departs through the southern tip of Texas.