Minnesotans hit the road to path of totality for solar eclipse

Watching a total eclipse is often a once in a lifetime experience. But Merle Hiltner is hoping his second stellar adventure is twice as nice.

"It's always great seeing a rare astronomical event like this. Things are coming together. We've got all the planning done. Now it's just a matter of waiting and hoping for the best and implementing the contingency plans if we need to move," said Hiltner.

Hiltner is one of several members of the Minnesota Astronomical Society who are meeting up in Texas to be in the path of totality when the moon passes between the earth and sun on Monday.

The amateur astronomer says he traveled to Nebraska to see the last eclipse in 2017 and was so moved by it, he drove even further this time, 16 hours, to do it again.

"You want to experience it because seeing pictures, seeing video, it just doesn't do it justice," said Hiltner.

Officials at the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota say the moon is only expected to block about 75% of the sun here in the metro.

They say Minnesotans who don't want to travel can make the most of the eclipse by looking at it through one of their solar telescopes or buying glasses with special filters to avoid permanently damaging their eyes by looking directly at the sun.

"I think the easiest thing to do is to go outside and look up, take some time out of your day, head outside and look up at the sun," said the Bell Museum Planetary Production Coordinator, Thaddeus LaCoursiere.

Hiltner expects another mad dash at the end to find clear skies, but being back in the shadow of the moon would make it all worthwhile.

"Even if it's overcast, and we get shut out, it's better to try it. I regret things that I don't do more than giving this a try," said Hiltner.

The Bell Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota, along with several state parks, will host viewing parties on Monday, depending on the weather.