7 Things You Need to Know About the 2017 Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, the U.S. will experience a rare phenomenon -- a total solar eclipse. While we will not see a total eclipse in Louisiana, we will get to witness a partial eclipse. Here's what you need to know to make the best of this rare astronomical occurrence.

Louisiana Will Only See a Partial Eclipse

While we will not see a total eclipse in Louisiana, we will get to witness a partial eclipse. The moon will cover about 75 percent of the sun from our region. To see a total eclipse, where the moon fully covers the sun for a short few minutes, you must be in the path of totality. The path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from West to East. If you’re down for a road trip, consider hitting up the places within the path.

Yes, It's a Big Deal

This celestial event is such big deal because the occurrence is so rare. In fact, the last time the U.S. witnessed a total solar eclipse was February of 1979 which explains why everyone is frantically racing to the epicenter of the country to catch a glimpse.

Best Time to Watch the Eclipse

According to University of New Orleans astrophysicist, Dr. Greg Seab, the event will last from noon until approximately 3 p.m. with maximum coverage around 1:29 p.m. So if you need to take a lunch break to see it, you may want to do that between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Best Places to Watch the Eclipse

This will be an easy event to watch provided it’s not raining or cloudy. The best place to watch it will be somewhere with unobstructed views so think a park, like Woldenberg, the Fly at Audubon or a rooftop. There are a couple of places that are having viewing parties as well:

  • The University of New Orleans invites the public to come to their campus for eclipse lectures in the morning starting at 10:30 a.m. followed by eclipse viewing in the Quad beginning at 1:20 p.m. There will be a limited amount of solar viewing glasses available as well as pin projectors so you may want to bring your own.
  • Nicholls State University will also host a viewing party, starting with a lecture at 9:40 a.m. At noon, attendees are encouraged to gather in the fields outside the Rec Center to view the eclipse through telescopes and eclipse glasses.
  • If you want some cocktails to go along with your eclipse party then the Milan Lounge is the place for you. They are hosting a party from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  They will have a limited number of solar glasses available.

Wear Proper Glasses

We cannot stress enough how important it is for you to wear proper, protective eye wear when viewing the solar eclipse. The proper glasses are equipped with mylar lenses that block out the UV rays. The glasses need be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standards, and it should say this somewhere on the glasses. Magazine Street eyeglass store, Warby Parker, is giving out these glasses for free. Get yourself some before they run out. Shoney’s restaurants will offer free “Eclipse Survival Kits” on Monday, August 21 from 6am – 11am to their guests.  The survival kit contains a pair of solar eclipse glasses and a complimentary Chocolate Double Decker MoonPie. If you don’t have the proper approved glasses you will have to view it indirectly using a pinhole projector.

How to Capture it on Camera

Leave this to the professionals unless you have the proper equipment to capture this moment on camera. A telephoto lens, solar filters and mirrorless camera are some of the items you need to capture this event properly. Your cellphone isn’t going to produce an impressive image, and you can damage your sensor by pointing it directly into the sun.

Three Apps to Enhance Your Experience

If you want to learn more about the eclipse, good news: There’s an app for that. Eclipse2017.org is an app where you can upload your location to see what time the phases of the eclipse will happen near you. Solar Eclipse Timer provides precise timing with audible announcements and tones. It alerts you when things are happening and counts you down to the main event.  Eclipse USA Quiz Game is the Jeopardy of everything eclipse. It will help expand your knowledge of the solar eclipse and help you kill time while waiting for the event to happen.