The day is almost here that will turn to night for more than two minutes in the afternoon, and millions of Americans can’t wait to blackout!
The media hype is fever pitched, and you undoubtedly know more about a total solar eclipse than you ever imagined. It will be the Great American Eclipse, so take time to enjoy. The next total solar eclipse crossing the United States will be April 8, 2024 when the swath of totality goes from San Antonio, Texas to Cleveland, Ohio.
So, I’ve put together a Top 10 list of eclipse tips to be mindful and make it a good experience.
1. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN WITH ANY OPTICAL DEVICE.
You WILL hurt your eyes. That includes binoculars, rifle sights, telescopes. Only with proper Sun filters and precautions can you keep your eyes safe.
2. BE SMART WITH YOUR SMART PHONE.
The partial phases can, and will for some, fry the cell phone camera. Put a solar eyeglass filter over the camera lens. But during the final seconds and through totality taking cell phone photos will be okay.
3. GET THERE EARLY.
Wherever you plan to watch the partial phases and/or totality, get there early. Even if your destination is your own backyard to get relaxed and enjoy. This will be largest mass movement of humans to see an event of nature ever, so don’t underestimate the traffic jams on the Interstates that probably will happen by late Monday morning.
4. LOOK DOWN, OBSERVE NATURE.
Not everything cool about an eclipse of the Sun is happening in the sky. During the partial phase tree leaves will act like pinholes and there will be hundreds of crescent Suns on the ground, picnic tables and vehicles. If more than 95 percent partial you might witness shadows soften and a dimming like twilight. It will get a little cooler. During totality, cows will head for the barn, roosters will crow and maybe lightning bugs will start their mating ritual. Be aware of all your senses.
5. EVERY TOTAL ECLIPSE LASTS 8 SECONDS.
That’s the advice from seasoned total eclipse chasers, who say it is easy to get distracted and, boom, it’s over. So, have any photos preplanned and camera on a tripod with all settings made and just a few images planned. Best advice is kick back in a lawn chair with binoculars around your neck for the total phase and a camera beside you for a few steady shots.
6. DON’T OBSESS ABOUT PHOTOS.
That’s right. Everyone will want to take their own photos, but there are thousands of professionals and even more outstanding amateur photographers who have planned for months to capture that fantastic image.
7. ENJOY THOSE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS
There will be some jaw-dropping and clever photos and videos made of the Great American Eclipse. Check them out all over the Internet, and one of the best places will be spaceweather.com, space.com, astronomy.com and skyandtelescope.com.
8. KEEP THOSE SOLAR EYEGLASSES.
You can use those solar eyeglasses anytime on the Sun, and sometimes there are some big sunspots than can be seen naked eye. Or put them in an envelope and label it “Do Not Open ‘Til April 8, 2024,” the next total solar eclipse in America.
9. DON’T CUSS THE WEATHERMAN.
Sunday night’s meteorologists might be the most watched forecast in history as several million people will be wanting to know if it will be clear at their primary observing choice, or will they be forced to travel to a backup, clear site.
10. LET THE ECLIPSE MAKE AN IMPRESSION.
Sit back and enjoy the hype and big day of the Great American Eclipse, no matter what the weather. It will still get dark as night in the totality belt where some places will probably be cloudy on a hot, August afternoon. If you’re seeing a partial phase, enjoy that too. If you’re an artist, let the eclipse provide an inspiration for a song, sketch, photo, painting, pottery or poem.
Be sensical and safe this special Eclipse Monday, Aug. 21st. And if you’ve got a great story to tell or image to share, eclipse me with an email.