Tips on Preparing for the August 21 Total Solar Eclipse

July 17, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

On August 21, 2017, you’ll have the first chance in decades (1979 was the last) to view a total solar eclipse from within the continental US. If you miss it, you’ll have to wait until 2024 for another chance; that is unless you want to travel around the world to chase the next eclipse. Twelve states will be in the path of totality (that part of the eclipse where it can be seen as a total eclipse). They are South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming, and Oregon. Most other states in America will able to view a partial solar Eclipse.  

What time is the eclipse going to happen? Well, it depends on where you are. It will be morning on the west coast, but early afternoon on the east coast. Here in Kentucky, it will occur between 1:24 & 1:30 in the afternoon. The big dilemma is what to do if you have less than optimal viewing conditions the day of the eclipse. In most populated areas, you probably won’t have the ability to speed to a new location because there will likely be hundreds of thousands of other eclipse gawkers thinking the same thing. Several experts have referred to it as “a logistical nightmare.” Just be ready for massive traffic jams if clouds should appear just before the eclipse begins and have a well thought out exit strategy in place.

In a worst case scenario, make the best of what you have. During the 2013 total eclipse of the sun in Australia, thousands anxiously waited for the possibility that the heavy clouds would break. At the moment of totality, they were treated to the totality experience. Don’t give up hope.

Prior to the day of the eclipse, check local television stations’ websites for their current weather broadcasts and load their URL into your phone or tablet. All local television stations will be making weather predictions continuously just prior to the day of the event.

Viewing and Photographing.  Solar Eclipses are not safe to be viewed by the naked eye, so you must prepare to take the appropriate precautions to keep from harming your eyesight. Do not view or photograph the sun without the use of a solar filter and appropriate protective eyewear designed for viewing a solar eclipse. Failure to observe the proper precautions may result in permanent eye damage or vision loss.

Just as importantly, if you are photographing the eclipse, you need to use a solar filter on the end of the lens or use a telescope specifically designed for viewing solar eclipses, or else you could harm the camera’s image sensor.

The only time during a solar eclipse when it's safe to look directly at the sun without a solar filter is during totality. In fact, you have to take your solar filter off the camera to photograph the totality of the eclipse, putting it back on to capture the back end of the eclipse as the moon moves away from obstructing the sun.



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