Mark your calendar for August 21, 2017!
On that date, people across certain parts of North America will have a prime view of a total solar eclipse from coast to coast, something that hasn’t occurred in the United States since 1919.
Naturally, such a rare celestial event is causing a lot of buzz, and people are seeking guidance on how they can best get ready to watch the sun’s light darken in mid-day as it passes behind the moon.
To give you ample time to make your viewing plans, we’ve put together a few steps you can take right now that will maximize your ability to see the best light show that 2017 has to offer!
By Wolfgang Strickling [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Not everyone in North America will have a prime view of 2017’s total eclipse, so you’ll need to plan ahead so you’re in a prime location for viewing.
The map above shows the path of the eclipse, which will work its way from the Oregon Coast at 10:16 am local time toward Charleston, South Carolina and beyond as the morning continues. That means there are plenty of prime viewing locations to witness the totality of the eclipse all across the nation.
But if you’re thinking you’ll be able to find a secluded spot all to yourself, think again. People have been making plans for their eclipse viewing for years now, with some towns along its path expecting thousands of viewers from all over the world.
Needless to say, if you haven’t picked your viewing location, bought your plane tickets, and made your reservations, you’re behind the ball!
Just remember - your ability to see the eclipse will depend on lots of factors, the weather among them. When considering a location for viewing, do some investigations into the area’s typical weather for that time of year. Also map out several different viewing locations once you pick a destination. You might find a crowd at one spot, but a few miles away you might be all alone. Two spots that are sure to be filled with viewers are two of the most beautiful landscapes in the United States - Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. The crowds might be worth it, though, to view the eclipse above such beautiful terrain.
Protect Your Eyes
Naturally, you’ll need to protect your eyes when viewing the eclipse - at least when the sun is still viewable. Even just a sliver of sun protruding from behind the moon is still bright enough to burn your retinas in just a few seconds if viewed without eye protection.
Mylar glasses are inexpensive and give you the protection you need. These aluminum-coated sheets are used to create special eclipse viewing glasses. Viewing the sun through mylar renders the sun a blue-white color that’s easy on the eyes so you can safely watch as the eclipse unfolds before you.
Number 14 welding goggles work equally as well to protect your eyes. The dark green glass manages to filter out 100 percent of ultraviolet light and infrared radiation, reducing visible light by about 300,000 times. Needless to say, if you want to watch the eclipse with the naked eye, this is the way to do it! Whatever you do, don’t view the eclipse using sunglasses or smoked glass. Though they reduce visible light, they don’t stop the infrared and ultraviolet radiation from the sun, both of which can damage your eyes.
Why observe the eclipse with the naked eye when you can get up close for a detailed view with a telescope for the occasion? Many astronomy enthusiasts prefer eclipse viewing with a telescope because it provides higher detail at greater powers. Better still, a telescope is much easier on your body and eyes than trying to use binoculars, and the range of the telescope gives you an extended viewing period as well.
There are tons of quality telescopes available for next year’s eclipse, but one of our favorites is the Celestron - Solar Observer 60 60mm Telescope. With an ideal combination of build quality, features, and value, the Solar Observer 60 has excellent optical performance, slow motion controls for smooth tracking, and optical components with high transmission coatings for exceptional image clarity and brightness. Even better, it’s easy to set up and highly portable, so if you need to move quickly to find a better vantage point for the eclipse of the century, you won’t be hampered by a long and complex setup process.
Of course, just like your eyes need protection, the optics in your telescope need protection as well. Luckily the Solar Observer 60 comes with a Safe Solar Filter so you can safely view the eclipse and other solar events without worry of damaging your eyes or your telescope.
With that, you’ve got the essentials down for making the most of the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse. Plan your trip now, get the right protective gear for your eyes, and gear up with a high-quality telescope, and you’re sure to make the most of the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in decades.