If you are like me, in less than three weeks you will be viewing the total solar eclipse with millions of people across the United States. The total eclipse makes a diagonal cut across the country and will be visible from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.
The last total solar eclipse was in 1918, 99 years ago, and won’t happen again for another 30 years. For 2-2.5 minutes people within the path of totality will be able to observe how the Sun is eclipsed by the moon, with only the brightest and hottest outside rays of the corona visible. If you want to make sure you experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, there are a few things you must do.
If you want to glimpse the two beautiful minutes when the world goes fully dark in the middle of day, when the birds fly south in response, and when only the stars and corona of the Sun are visible, you will need to travel to one of the areas that are within the path of totality. Everyone else will get a partial eclipse, but the recommendations about safety and location still apply! I live in California so I’m traveling to Oregon in the Salem area to catch the eclipse camping at a farm.
I’m choosing to break up the trip with visits to my friends in San Francisco and Portland, but if you are closer to one of the other places within the path of totality, there are plenty of things you can do on the way.
A Place to Stay, a Place to View
I’ll be paying for a spot in a rural area to watch the eclipse unadulterated by any light pollution. But if you haven’t already found a place to stay and watch the event, it is time to find those accommodations now. There are plenty of anecdotal accounts of hotels around the country booking up months ago. Be creative in trying to find a place. Also don’t forget to look at what time the eclipse will be total to see if you can drive further out to catch a place to stay.
You will also need to find a place to watch it. I recommend finding a nice spot in nature that is secluded from the hordes of people coming to see the spectacle. Wherever you go, get there early so you can find a good place to sit and wait for the astronomical event. Plan what you’re going to after, I assure you will have a buzz of endorphins from watching such a strange and rare thing happen, I know I will be having some beers with my buddies in Portland.
Don’t Forget to Protect Your Eyes and Enjoy the View!
Perhaps the most important thing is that you do everything you can to protect your eyes. First, never look at the eclipse without proper eye protection. The corona is the brightest part of the Sun and is only visible during a total eclipse. If you look at it without protection, you will likely do irreparable damage to your sight.
You can get the proper glasses from any Warby Parker store for free while supplies last. But hurry, each store only has a small amount of glasses. While you’re watching the corona of the Sun dance behind the moon with your glasses, don’t forget to take them off looking away from the Sun and look at the stars. It will be very dark and stargazing will be fantastic. Also look around you, see how the world is reacting to the abnormal celestial situation. But don’t look to long! The star of the show is the eclipse itself.
I picked up my pair of glasses from Warby Parker and I was amazed at how dark they are. That will be one bright Sun! Protect your eyes, this will be an event that you’ll never forget. I’m sure I won’t, I’ve been planning on making this trip for years.