Solar Eclipse Advice
SilGro home page for Alan Silverstein and Cathie
Last update: August 6, 2017 --
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is some brief advice about watching a total solar eclipse, based on
my past experiences: One good total, one clouded out, one good annular,
and innumerable partials and lunars.
(These are off-the-cuff thoughts I posted to the Facebook
2017 U.S. Solar Eclipse Travel & Discussion Group
in July 2017. I got enough positive comments that I decided to save and
improve the text here in this webpage.)
You could get clouded out, it happens. So enjoy the lead-up,
preparations, travel, merchandise, massive partying, etc, as much as the
brief time of totality itself. (Hawaii 1991, totality was a disaster,
but I hiked to the top of Mauna Loa the next day!)
Wait and hurry up:
If all goes well and you find yourself settled into a good viewing
location without serious clouds during the long time of increasing
partial phase, you might find that it's painfully slow waiting for
"something" to happen. Then it hits very fast and then it's over
and you go "huh", wishing you could jump back and slow it down.
(Unfortunately we can't go back, say, 200 million years to when the Moon
was much closer, so total eclipses were much more common and lasted
longer. Lucky dinosaurs?)
Be fully present:
As you're watching, by whatever safe means, the thinning crescent
in the last few minutes, remember to draw in some deep breaths, center
your mind in the moment, look around, and take "mental photographs."
(I plan to pay attention to when the umbra first hits and departs land,
and a few other key time points --
here's an example
-- to enlarge my sense of the scale of the event across the entire
When the crescent suddenly shrinks into the "diamond ring effect",
breaks into Baily's beads, the last bead vanishes for a quick look at
the reddish chromosphere, and then totality really begins, it happens
very quickly! Pull the eclipse shades, stare at the unbelievable
phenomenon, and laugh at how even normally staid and quiet people
express complete disbelief -- often loudly.
...Ends too fast:
Soak it all up. The wave of darkness washes over you inexorably like a
massive ocean breaker near shore (for those of you who have experienced
this). Unless you're watching the clock, the reappearance of the
chromosphere and then the beads will catch you by surprise. Be ready to
put your glasses back on soon.
See also my brief
Solar Eclipse Reminders webpage.