Tips and tricks for optimal eclipse viewing

A total solar eclipse makes itself visible across a 70-mile swath of the country for the first time in nearly a century, though in Minnesota, we’ll only experience 84 percent of the eclipse’s totality.

“Totality is where the disc of the moon completely blocks the disc of the sun,” said Chick Woodward, Ph.D., the senior vice president of the American Astronomical Society. “84 percent totality is actually pretty neat, it won’t be completely dark but it should be a pretty exciting event. You’ll see a little arch of the disc of the sun, but even that small 20 percent arch, if you have an unaided eyes, is enough to cause permanent eye damage.”

This is why Dr. Woodward suggests you always keep your ISO 12312-2 certified glasses the entire viewing time. If your eclipse glasses are scratched, punctured or torn, throw them away.

“Using homemade sorts of things like dark glasses or over exposed film will not work,” he said.

The partial eclipse visible in Minnesota starts at 11:43 a.m. and peaks at 1:06 p.m. before finishing off right before 2:30 p.m. Dr. Woodward says it is imperative you protect your eyes from start to finish, so turn your back towards the sun and make sure your glasses cover your naked eyes, or everyday glasses, completely.

Then, and only then, turn around to the sun.

After you take in the glory of the moon as it passes in front of the sun, then take the same safety precaution.

“Turn around, put your back towards the sun, remove the glasses. At no time do you want to look at the disk of the sun,” Dr. Woodward warns.

“It’s a big deal in the photographic community,” Terry White, a professional photographer and Adobe Evangelist, said.

If you’re among those who lug a camera to your viewing site in hopes of capturing NASA quality footage, White suggests you don’t wait until Monday to practice.

White says a DSLR camera with a remote release is best.

And just as you have to protect your eyes, you’ll have to protect you’ll camera lens. Use a solar filter to make sure you don’t burn your sensor out. You’ll also need a tripod for that crystal clear, steady shot.

The same rules apply for your smartphone.

If it’s too late for you to buy or rent gear, don’t sweat it. The awe you can capture behind the scenes can be just as cool.

“If you can make it more interesting by capturing the surrounding areas, the trees, and people looking up at it, those are going to be the shots that make the day,” White said. "Despite the chance of partly cloudy skies tomorrow, remember it’s never a good idea to stare at the sun wearing only sunglasses. The same general rule applies during Monday’s solar eclipse. The risk of permanent retinal damage simply isn’t worth it."

Meanwhile, if you wonder whether or not it’s a good idea to bring your pets along for nature’s show, vets suggest you play it safe instead. Keep your pets inside and away from windows as a precaution.

After tomorrow, the next chance you have to see a solar eclipse in the U.S. won’t be until April 2024.

For more on the path of totality and eclipse viewing tips click here.