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Planning to see an Eclipse

Success in observing an eclipse requires a mix of detailed research and, as far as the weather goes, an element of luck!

You need to know the date of the eclipse, the track the shadow will follow and the time the sun will be eclipsed at each point along the track. You will need climate data for the track for that time of year to pick the most promising location for a clear sky.

The eclipse duration will be of shorter if your observation point is towards either end of the track and reduces if you are away from the centre of the track. It is better to sacrifice some duration in favour of better prospects of a clear sky. You will also need to find a way to get to the chosen location, flights, hotels and such like and then you usually need local transport on the day. The increased interest in viewing an eclipse makes it essential to fix all these matters up a long time in advance.

Where can I see an Eclipse of the Sun? ​You will find information about future solar eclipses on many sites on the internet, including this one. Look for a track of the eclipse shadow path and you can see which countries and towns will be under the shadow. You will want to pick a location with facilities such as transportation and hotels and also a place which offers good weather prospects as a cloudy sky could prevent observation of the complete eclipse. The closer you can get to the centre of the eclipse path, the longer the duration of the total eclipse.

The Eclipse observation site ​On the day of the eclipse you will want to get to your observation site in good time before “first contact”. That is when the edge of the moon first touches the edge of the Sun. At this stage you will need a special viewer to look at the Sun as a curved 'bite' is taken from one side.

Astro Trails current eclipse projects can be viewed here

Photo Credit: Andreas Moeller

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