An Eclipse Day Checklist and Last-Minute Thoughts

Total Solar Eclipse Corona Details

The eclipsed Sun reveals details in its corona, as seen by the author at the 2006 totality near the Egypt-Libya border.

Photo Credit
Fred Espenak

Don't miss this. Take the day off.

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The 2024 Old Farmer's Almanac

Read more about the Total Solar Eclipse in The 2024 Old Farmer’s Almanac!

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Now that the April 8 total solar eclipse is upon us, here are ten last-minute tips—and an eclipse day checklist if you’re headed out. 

10 Eclipse Tips and Musings

  1. First, remember that this event isn’t about astronomy as much as quality of life, meaning the chance to have the deepest experience in life. Many people weep from the emotional impact! Do not waste time trying to take photos of the Sun. Just soak it in. 
  2. Recognize that driving that extra hour or two is worth it. Nature doesn’t readily hand out solar totalities. A solar totality appears over any given location just once every 375 years. The next one isn’t on U.S. soil for two decades. My eclipse tour members sign up years in advance to have us take them to the Australian outback (2012) or the Egyptian Sahara (2006) or on board our ship to a lonely Romanian port on the Black Sea (1999) or the tip of the Baja Peninsula (1991.) The 2024 eclipse is no more than a drive in your own car for many, maybe not even needing to leave your own state! 
  3. You want to be somewhere in the middle two-thirds of totality, not along the edge where the eclipse is short. A reminder that you can not be off the path, not even 1%. Those who tell you otherwise do not understand the meaning of totality.
  4. Write down the eclipse times for your location, specifically when the partial eclipse starts, when the total eclipse starts, the middle of totality, when totality ends, and when the partial eclipse ends. See eclipse times.
  5. A day or two ahead of the event, check the weather forecasts to decide where you’re driving and head to where in the path the sky’s forecast is clearest.
  6. Have the right expectations. The sky doesn’t become dark as night; it’s not about darkness. Instead, something ineffable happens. Nature has caused the Sun, Moon, and yourself to form a straight line. Some inexplicable “energy” or “presence” is unleashed that you’ve never before felt or even imagined. There is no language for it, and anyone who saw a partial really has no idea because they haven’t experienced it.
  7. Know what you’re looking for. If you travel to Egypt, you don’t just look at the monuments and say, “Hmm. A pile or rocks.” You’ll want to look for the feathery corona, the flash of the diamond ring, and deep pink geysers of nuclear flame shooting out from the curved edges of the black moon-covered solar disk. And the actual visible motion of the pitch-black New Moon, seen moving in its orbit. Here’s my 10-minute countdown on What to Look for During Totality.
  8. Hotels filled? Probably by now. But remember, you only need to look up at the sky around 3 PM local time. You can pull into a rest stop, a shoulder, a mall, a local park, a college track field, a farm, or a meadow. 
  9. And yes, it’s perfectly safe to look at during those three minutes of totality. I even use binoculars for a minute or so in the middle of it to show those pink prominences most clearly. But during the hourlong partial eclipse that precedes totality and then follows it, you must have eye protection. See my post on eclipse eye protection
  10. Even if you check the weather, last-minute clouds are possible. Try to stay mobile and drive to another location to avoid the clouds. Or have plans B and C within a 3-to 4-hour drive.

See my Complete Guide to the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse to get the basics.

2024 Eclipse Checklist

Here’s a quick checklist of what to bring with you on your eclipse outing:

  1. Your eclipse glasses or solar filters
  2. Your viewing location/parking planned out, and know traffic expectations
  3. Plenty of water and food, books, and activities as phases of partiality can last 90 minutes
  4. A full gas tank if you are driving
  5. New batteries for any of your gear
  6. Full-charged mobile phone, along with phone charging cables for the car, or a charge stick.
  7. Camera with enough memory/storage space
  8. A notebook to recall this event; if you wish, bring a thermometer, flag, and compass to observe the shifts in wind and temperature during the eclipse
  9. Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  10. Notes on what you plan to see! 

The Day and Morning Before You Leave

  1. Check the weather. You may need to adjust your plans.
  2. Check the traffic. 
  3. Check the accuracy of your timepiece to track the transition of eclipse phases. The window of totality is short!

Take the day off! Many schools will be closed for this event, which will be the most watched celestial spectacle in our lifetime.

If you miss this, the next US total solar eclipse will not unfold until the 2040s unless you count the one nine years from now in far northern Alaska. See when the next total solar eclipses happen.

Where will you be watching the Total Solar Eclipse?

About The Author

Bob Berman

Bob Berman, astronomer editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob is the world’s most widely read astronomer and has written ten popular books. Read More from Bob Berman

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