Safe Viewing Warning
Unless you are wearing special eclipse glasses, do not look directly at the Sun during the partial phases of the eclipse. It is still unsafe even when the Sun is more than 99% covered by the Moon. The only time it is safe to look toward the Sun without eclipse glasses is when it is covered completely during totality for those on the path of totality. LEARN MORE ABOUT SAFE VIEWING
What’s the big deal about a total solar eclipse? Watch the following video to find out. This video introduction will explain why you will want to make sure to see an upcoming total solar eclipse, including the one coming up in the United States and Mexico on April, 8, 2024.
To learn more about how and why eclipses occur, continue on to the videos posted on our Understanding Eclipses page.
A total solar eclipse is a totally different experience from a partial solar eclipse, and one you should not miss if there is any way that you can get to the path of totality for an upcoming eclipse. In using this app to choose a location along the path of totality, be sure to consider all of the following:
- Weather: You can’t see totality if there are clouds in front of the Sun, so you’ll want to pick a location where the weather is expected to be good. For advance planning, check out the cloud probabilities at the Eclipsophile web site created by Jay Anderson and Jennifer West. As eclipse day approaches, check the weather forecast, and if it looks poor for your planned location, consider trying a spot with a better forecast.
- Amount of totality: The length of totality varies from one eclipse to the next and with your exact location on the path of totality. The Totality app will tell you the exact amount of totality for any location for your chosen eclipse. Keep in mind that while longer is in principle better, in practice you must trade off the length of totality with convenience.
- Convenience: While it’s easy to think of the ideal as being in perfect weather with the longest possible totality, you should also consider convenience. For example, choose a location that is easy for you to get to, and many people prefer to be in or near a town or city in order to have access to food, water, bathrooms, and other conveniences.
- Solo or group: Some people may seek a solitary wilderness experience for the eclipse, but for most people it is more fun to watch with a large group. In that case, look for locations hosting eclipse events at schools, parks, stadiums, and so on. Or consider hosting one yourself!
- Plan ahead: Expect heavy traffic on eclipse day, so it will be best to go to your chosen location at least a day or two early to avoid the risk of missing totality because of clogged roads. Also bring along food and water, just in case you get stuck, or local stores run out.
If You Can’t Get to Totality
If you simply can’t get to the path of totality, you will likely still have the opportunity to see a partial solar eclipse for at least some of the upcoming eclipses. Use the Totality app to find out what you’ll see at any location. If you will have a partial eclipse, you can watch it with nothing more than being outside during the eclipse and observing it in accord with the Safe Viewing guidelines. Use the Totality app to find the beginning, middle, and end times for the eclipse at your location.
Special Note For School Administrators and Teachers
An eclipse is a fantastic educational event. If you have one coming up in your area, consider planning an eclipse watching event at your school, inviting all your students, teachers, and parents. You might also ask if you have any local astronomers who can bring telescopes (with appropriate filters) and help explain the event to your community. Be sure to help your students observe safely in accord with the Safe Viewing guidelines, and don’t miss the Classroom Activities page in this app.