April 13, 2024

Image for article titled Your ultimate guide to watching the total solar eclipse

Graphic: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

During the eclipse, a sizable portion of the North American population will witness the eclipse by simply strolling into their backyards or stepping outside their workplaces. But for those who have to travel in from afar, or wish to view the event from a particular location, the event is going to take some foresight, planning — and tons of patience.

Knowing your target location in advance will give you a decent idea of how the day will go in terms of timing. Be prepared for other people to be at your spot — possibly even crowds — as there’s a good chance that, if you think a spot is good, other people will, too. Important, but often overlooked, considerations are parking and access to bathrooms. If you’re able, be sure to leave early and give yourself a ridiculous amount of time to reach your destination. Expect bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Remember, the eclipse starts more than an hour before the totality phase. And your location matters a lot: being near the center of the path of totality will make a big difference. It can mean experiencing totality for just a few seconds, or, at its best, for an impressive four minutes.

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