If you are a avowed skeptic, you probably have loads of friends who are massive science enthusiasts, and more than a few who take it for granted that it makes sense to drive for hours in order to see a total solar eclipse. As Caleb Lack would say, “100% or GTFO.” With that in mind, here are some handy eclipse-chasing tips from people who learned the hard way.
1. Be prepared
If you are going to attempt to get the full experience, plan well ahead. Book a hotel well in advance if you don’t want to get stuck in traffic on the day. Order your eclipse glasses (or better yet, welding goggles) well in advance and plan for a particular destination somewhere in the zone of totality, preferably a welcoming small town rather than a major metropolitan area. (We picked a small Catholic University in northeast Kansas, because who doesn’t love irony?) Expect that cellphone towers will get jammed up any place where large crowds of people suddenly show up; preload useful maps to your tablet or make a paper copy.
2. Be flexible
Have a fall-back plan if your original destination happens to get covered up in clouds. Several of my friends ended up rerouting from Kansas to Nebraska, which was projected to have much clearer skies. Be mobile on the day, if you have to be. If you happen to own a car with a sunroof be sure to take that one, so passengers can catch glimpses on the go. Pull over well out of the way of distracted drivers before totality is upon you. If you happen to be hanging out at a Catholic University, be advised that Benedictine monks dress like ninjas and tend to walk softly.
3. Be lucky
No way around this—even if you do everything right the weather can still screw up your experience. Best bring along a box of lucky charms and a reliable cloudbuster or else you may be stuck praying to all the gods who will listen for a few well-timed glimpses between the clouds, which can still be fairly awe-inspiring.
What we saw looked something like this:
We were in the path of totality, but clouds obscured "the moment." This was taken just 90 seconds before totality. pic.twitter.com/m2vZYM1UFD
— Rob Darby (@Rob_Darby) August 22, 2017
BGP welcomes your own lessons learned in the comments section, particularly if we failed to address something important.
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