August 21st is fast approaching, and millions of people are getting ready for the show. On Monday afternoon, the moon will cover the sun in the nation’s first solar eclipse in nearly a century. People everywhere are buying solar eclipse glasses, scheduling viewing parties and readying themselves for the moments of darkness on Monday. Whatever your plans are, keep in mind there are six things you should not do at totality:
1. Don’t Try To Photograph The Eclipse
If you really want to experience the eclipse, ditch your phone and camera. Totality is brief, so why waste your time trying to get a picture when you can experience the real thing? There will be plenty of professional photos to gaze at afterward. But if you’re in the path of the eclipse, live in the moment and enjoy the first hand experience.
2. Don’t Leave Your Eclipse Glasses On During Totality
You need solar eclipse glasses to safely view the entire eclipse, because you’ll be directly staring at the sun. But for those few minutes of totality, it’s safe to take them off. You’ll know when totality hits, because you won’t be able to see through your eclipse glasses anymore, due to the darkness.
3. Don’t Forget To Put Your Eclipse Glasses Back On
You won’t need your solar eclipse glasses during totality, but you will need them directly after. If you take your glasses off, make sure you put them back on as soon as totality ends. Looking directly at the sun through binoculars, a telescope or with the naked eye, even for a split second, can cause serious permanent eye damage.
4. Don’t Just See The Eclipse
While your eyes may be directed toward the sky, the sun isn’t the only thing that will change during the eclipse. The temperature will drop, nocturnal animals may come out of hiding, birds may fall silent… pay attention to your surroundings and take it all in.
5. Don’t Drive Unnecessarily
If you can avoid driving during the solar eclipse, it’s best to do so. State officials have put out traffic advisories across the path of the eclipse. The U.S. Department of Transportation is concerned that this will be one of the largest driver distractions in years, which could cause accidents.
6. Don’t Do One Thing Exclusively
The event will go by pretty fast, so be prepared to soak it all in. During totality, you’ll be able to see the sky, the stars and the planets – not just the sun. So put down your electronics, turn off all distractions and enjoy the view. It won’t happen again for a long time!
American Astronomical Society