Later this month, on August 21, 2017, the Great American Eclipse will make its way across the United States from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast. It has been almost a century since the last time a total solar eclipse made its way on a coast to coast journey across the US in 1918. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible from anywhere in the contiguous United States was in 1979. The total solar eclipse is a rare and stunning phenomenon. Not taking the necessary precautions could, however, turn it into a dangerous and potentially traumatizing experience.
Here are a few dos and don’ts that will make viewing the eclipse a safe and memorable experience:
- Do find out the path of the total eclipse.
- Do head to a spot that lies in the path of totality for the best views.
- Do check weather forecasts. Clear skies with high visibility will make for the best eclipse viewing experience.
- Do note the exact timing of the eclipse. The eclipse is usually visible for a very short duration. Do not miss out.
- Do carry your camping gear, food, and drinks; fill up on gas ahead of time in case you need to move quickly to get better shots.
- Don’t view the solar eclipse without the use of protective eyewear.
- Do ensure that your protective eyewear is ISO 12312-2 international standard certified for safety.
- Don’t use damaged, scratched, or wrinkled eyewear or ordinary sunglasses. Supervise children and young adults who may be viewing the eclipse with you.
- Do set your camera lenses to manual focus; use a solar filter to protect the camera lens.
- Do use binoculars or telescopes, but ensure they are equipped by protective lenses.
- Don’t use a smartphone to capture the eclipse.
- Do use a tripod to ensure you don’t capture blurry, shaky images of this rare phenomenon.
- Do read up on the various phases and phenomenon such as the first, second, third and fourth contacts and the Totality phase. Look out for the Diamond Ring effect.
- Do use a pinhole camera or projector to safely view the partial eclipse.
- Don’t fall for myths or superstitions. Certain cultures suggest fasting, staying indoors, or abstaining from physical activities during the eclipse. These are mere superstitions and have no scientific basis.