April 12, 2024

Secrets from the Shadow of the Moon

If you’re planning to witness the total solar eclipse from the narrow, 115-mile-wide path of totality on Monday, April 8, it’s essential that you know what to expect and how to get the most out of the experience to fetch. Eclipse chasers have their unique ways of enjoying the event, from knowing when to pee to how to scan the completely eclipsed sun for incredible sights. Here’s a closer look at the things experienced eclipse chasers will do (and not do) in secret on Monday:

NOTE: This article applies only to those who are on the path of totality as outlined in this map (below). If you are not within the path of totality (which you can control). this interactive mapthis eclipse simulator and in this eclipse look-up then you will only see a partial solar eclipse, which requires solar safety glasses at all times and is not rare or uncommon.

1. Hardly look at the sub-phases

There is so much fuss about solar safety glasses that many (most?) people think it is dangerous to go outside without them. However, Eclipse chasers hardly use them. If you are on the path of totality, the main attraction is not seeing the sun partially obscured by the moon (yawn!), but the totally eclipsed sun, which is completely safe to look at and not brighter than a full moon. .

Eclipse hunters wait for that moment, so other than a quick glance through solar-powered goggles to see how the moon moves across the sun, they’ll hardly look. The most important thing about ‘C1’ or ‘First Contact’ – when the moon begins to eclipse the sun – is that this is the ideal time to look for a toilet. After all, there are only about 75 minutes left!

2. Record audio

So many would-be eclipse observers worry about photographing the totality. Of course, there are professionals who are masters. Besides the fact that this alone is a good argument not to worry yourself, it is also a fact that the most memorable thing about experiencing the totality is the atmosphere. This is best captured with audio. Set your smartphone to record audio just before totality and leave it on, asking people for their on-the-spot reactions immediately after totality. It’s a shot you’ll cherish forever‚ unlike the photo you painstakingly captured at the cost of missing the actual eclipse… which (if you’re lucky) will look more or less the same as the official NASA images published a few hours later.

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3. Take ASsilhouette Selfie

The only image worth taking that will truly bring you back to the experience of totality is not an image of the eclipse itself, but of you and your companions viewing it together. An image of your silhouette watching the solar eclipse is something to cherish. The best way to make this is to put your smartphone on a small tripod behind you, set it to wide angle and record a 4K video. Then you have audio and video in one, and you can easily extract a still image later.

4. Use binoculars

Absolutely any binoculars will do, but you need to know when to use them and when not to use them. Find some, borrow some and hang them around your neck. Other than focusing on something far away before the eclipse, you can forget about them completely until darkness falls and totality begins. Hold them up to your eyes and… wow! The solar corona up close is something to behold – and it’s no brighter than a full moon. If you plan to use them to inspect the division phases, you MUST use special solar filters on the objective lenses of your binoculars. Use them ONLY during the solar eclipse when it is total and no part of the sun’s bright disk is visible. If you want to be extra safe, wait until it’s really dark and only use them for 30 seconds or a minute (depending on how long totality will last where you are).

5. Talk about the sun as a clock face

“Prominences, 3 hours!” or something similar is a common refrain from those in the know during totality. When you hear it, think of the sun as a clock face and see where the imaginary hand would be. Your reward will be prominence, an astronomical name for a large, bright feature extending outward from the sun’s surface. They appear bright pink during totality and extend into the corona. They are a feast for the eyes! As with the last total solar eclipse on April 20, 2023, prominences can sometimes appear as loops.

6. Adjusting eyes to the darkness before totality

Not all eclipse hunters do this, but some swear they will buy it. Place a patch over one eye or wear red welding goggles about an hour before totality. When totality begins, remove them, and you will have dark-adapted eyes. You will notice that the solar corona appears larger and brighter than anything around you. The sacrifice is not seeing the partial phases in advance, but that’s fine because you can see that after totality when the eclipse goes in reverse.

MORE FROM FORBESWhy you owe it to yourself to witness the April 8 total solar eclipse

7. Shed a few tears

The moments of totality are rare and entail enormous sacrifices for many. Eclipse hunters travel great distances at great expense. Why? Totality can be a road marker in human life; it is a moment of such power and splendor that it can be as important and impactful as births, deaths and marriages in a person’s life. When you look back on your life, this is one of the few moments you can still remember clearly. So when you see people crying – whether they’ve just experienced beautiful totality or, worse, it’s cloudy, and they’ve missed something they know is so special – don’t be surprised. Be jealous because they found a way to connect directly with nature.

I’m an expert on eclipses, the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and author of The complete guide to the great North American solar eclipse of April 8, 2024. For the latest news on the total solar eclipse, including travel and accommodation options,check my main feed for new articles every day.

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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