A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2017 Aug 18, 11:55 -0700
If your neighbors ask you for eclipse-viewing advice, rather than geeking-out about sextants and solar filters, you might want to suggest a picnic, as follows...
SEE THE ECLIPSE (share this)
If you're not travelling to the path of totality, you're missing out. But our consolation prize is a partial solar eclipse. Not really a big deal, but you will want to see it anyway, right? The BEST WAY is to have a picnic under a high stand of trees. The overlapping leaves in the canopy will create little "pinhole camera" effects and scatter images of the eclipse all around you during your picnic. You'll be surrounded by eclipse images while you enjoy a late lunch. It's a slow-moving event --no urgency about it. The eclipse lasts from about 1:30 to about 4:00pm in New England. And btw, the skies won't darken... there will be nothing remarkable to see... You will notice nothing unless you have a proper filter to look through OR unless you have a picnic under trees!! Seriously, that is the way to go. You want high trees with a somewhat thin canopy of leaves creating a nice "dappling" of sun patches on the ground below. During the eclipse, each "circle" of light will have a "bite" taken out that will change in size as the eclipse progresses, reaching a maximum around 2:45 when the Sun is about halfway up the sky (50 deg high) in the southwest. Take lots of photos. Bring a notebook with a sheet of plain white paper clipped to it to see the images better. It's the best, casual way to see the eclipse if you can't get inside that narrow path of totality. ......... Oh, and if you can do a last minute road trip, check the weather forecast and GO! Go, go, GO! A total solar eclipse is spectacular. A partial solar eclipse, like we will see in New England, is nothing more than mild entertainment for a picnic.
Note: I wrote this for a New England audience, but the advice is the same for any location outside the path of totality with adjustments to the timing. You will notice little out of the ordinary outside the band of totality. Even with the Sun 99% covered, the scenery around you will not appear significantly darker since your eyes have plenty of time to adjust to the change in brightness, and a sun reduced in brightness by five magnitudes (as it is when it's 99% eclipsed) is still at an apparent megnitude of -21.7 which is over 4000 times brighter than the full moon.