If you’re interested in seeing an eclipse from the best possible vantage point, you need to seek out what is known as the “center line.” This is where you can see the eclipse for the longest amount of time. Why?
If we imagine the shadow cast by the Moon as a line, that line is what is known as the path of totality. But if you’re able to get as close as possible to the center of the path of totality, you’ll be able to see the eclipse for a longer period of time; if the duration of the eclipse closer to the edge of the path of totality is two minutes, the eclipse from the “center line” may last three minutes! Whether this is your first eclipse or you’ve seen a dozen in your lifetime, you probably want to maximize the amount of time you have underneath the Moon’s shadow, or the umbra.
That said, if you’re going to observe the eclipse from somewhere along the “center line,” you probably want to be prepared. After all, you’ll be surrounded by other passionate eclipse chasers, and you’ll want to take advantage of the experience as much as possible.
Let’s take a look at some of the eclipse gear you need to be totally prepared for spending some time inside the path of totality!
First things first: you need proper eyewear if you’re planning on looking at the eclipse. At Rainbow Symphony, we carry only CE and ISO certified eclipse eyewear. That means all of our eclipse eyewear meets the ISO standard for safe eclipse viewing, so long as you follow proper safety measures.
Our collection of eclipse viewing equipment includes:
- Plastic eclipse shades
- Plastic eclipse wrap-around goggles
- Clip-on eclipse shades (to wear over your prescription glasses)
- Paper eclipse glasses
- Hand-held eclipse viewers
- ...and more
Most of these items are available to order in bulk for large groups, such as eclipse community groups or classrooms.
Bring along some educational materials, such as textbooks, diagrams, or PDF print-outs, that explain the science of an eclipse. These can be helpful resources to remind your group – and yourself – of exactly what is transpiring in the heavens above. After the eclipse has waned, you can again refer to these diagrams to make sure the educational component of the experience sticks for good.
Maybe you simply want to bring some books or stories that put you in the eclipse-viewing mood! Whether that’s Twilight, Goodnight, Moon, Seveneves, or some other celestial-related reading material, the choice is yours!
Folding Chairs and Blankets
If you’re headed to the “center line,” be aware that you’re headed to a popular observation area where not only you can see the eclipse the best, but so can everyone else! Therefore, you’ll want to get there early and get comfy. Some lightweight, easy-to-carry folding chairs are a must, and for large groups, spreading out a blanket or some towels can give you all the space you need.
Dress for the occasion – and by that, we don’t necessarily mean you need to dress up… unless you want to! While the solar eclipse itself typically lasts about five minutes, you’ll want to head to your slice of the “center line” early to get a good spot, and you may end up sticking around for a little while after to chat with fellow eclipse chasers. You’ll be checking the forecast for cloud coverage leading up to the big day, so be sure you’re tracking the temperature, too!
Digital Camera with Solar Filters
Whether you’re a novice or a professional, if you plan to take photographs of the eclipse, you must be prepared with proper solar filters. These enable you to photograph the event from where you can see the eclipse begin, when the Moon begins to pass between the Earth and the Sun, during the maximum magnitude, and through the end.
Our Eclipse Shades® Solar Filters include options for various sized lenses and are a low-cost alternative to aluminum cell and glass filters.
Binoculars and Telescopes
If you want to take a closer look at the appearance of the Moon and the Sun during the solar eclipse, you may want to bring a pair of binoculars or a telescope. However, unless you’re using specially designed eclipse-ready gear, you’ll need to make some simple customizations to the lenses using solar filters the way you would with a camera.
Don’t forget the extras, like music, snacks, and sunblock. That’s right, sunblock! Remember, at the “center line,” you’ll be hanging out for a bit before and after the event, and that means you’ll be out in the sun for a while.
You may want to grab a cozy pillow, a journal and some writing instruments, and some water to stay hydrated. Whatever you choose to bring, make sure it’s all relatively portable to make carrying it in and out of the “center line” observation zone easy.
A Sense of Childlike Wonder
Last but not least, be sure to bring your sense of childlike wonder! It’s easy to be jaded by the celestial movements that take place every day and every night. But if you’re making the effort to head the “center line” – to where you can see the eclipse the best – you should take the opportunity to reflect on just how amazing it is that we can see other planetary bodies from here on Earth.
What’s equally amazing is that we as human beings have the knowledge we need to understand exactly what is happening during a solar eclipse – and the eclipse gear we need to see it all so clearly.