2017 Total Solar Eclipse: All The Best Viewing Tips For Catching Rarest Eclipse In A Century

Get the best viewing tips for the rare 2017 total solar eclipse.

The total solar eclipse happening on August 21, 2017, is being called the rarest eclipse in a century and for very good reason. As the Inquisitr recently reported, this will be the first time since 1918 that there will be a total solar eclipse that can be viewed from both coasts of the United States.

The last time anyone in the United States could see a total solar eclipse was in 1991, but only those in Hawaii were able to view it. This time around, there will be a path all the way across the country so that everyone will be able to gaze up at the 2017 total solar eclipse in August if they choose.

If you’ve never seen a total solar eclipse before, you’re in for a treat with this one, and will want all the very best viewing tips possible to help you safely enjoy this moment. And even if you have seen total solar eclipses before, it’s always wise to take a little refresher course on what you should and shouldn’t be doing to help you get the most out of the experience.

The very first thing that you will want to do is find out where you should be to make certain that you’re in the path of the totality for the 2017 total solar eclipse.

Viewers will be preparing for the ultra-rare 2017 total solar eclipse on August 21st

If you aren’t directly in the path of the 2017 total solar eclipse, don’t worry. You will still be able to see a partial solar eclipse, just not the total solar eclipse. But if you do plan on being in the path of the eclipse, when the shadow of the moon will totally obscure the sun, make sure you know the contact times, which are known as C1, C2, C3, and C4.

The very first contact time will be the exact second that the lunar disk brushes the solar disk. After this, the moon will start moving and covering the sun. By the time the sun is completely obscured by the moon, this is what is known as C2, or totality of the solar eclipse.

Depending on the path you are in when you are viewing the 2017 total solar eclipse, you may be there for two minutes or longer with the eclipse in totality, or C2. But as soon as the sun brightens again and the moon’s shadow begins to disappear, this is is when the phase of C3 begins. Once the sun is shining brightly again and is completely free of the moon’s shadow, this signals the end of contact, C4.

In case you’re wondering why contact times for the 2017 total solar eclipse are so important, it is because there are some very specific things that happen during certain contact times, as Popular Mechanics report. For instance, there is one very particular moment called “the diamond ring,” which happens when only a tiny part of the sun is left uncovered, and it derives its name from the fact that the halo of light looks like a diamond ring.

Another phenomenon known as “Bailey’s Beads” follows right on the heels of the diamond ring, and these happen just moments before the contact time of C2 takes effect.

As you’re watching the 2017 total solar eclipse, you might even get to see something known as “shadow bands.” If you don’t see them, don’t worry. They don’t happen during every eclipse and they also don’t happen in some areas where you may be viewing.

But if you are lucky enough to see these shadow bands, you will see the light bend and it will appear that there are shadows that look like a host of snakes slithering along the ground beneath you. Astronomers still do not fully understand what causes the effect of shadow bands, but if you would like to see these for yourself you will want to be aware of these right before the contact time of C2 and immediately after the contact time of C3.

Find out contact times for best viewing of the 2017 total solar eclipse.

If you want a high-tech way to get the correct contact times for the 2017 total solar eclipse, you can use the Solar Eclipse Timer which will use your GPS location to track all four of the exact contact times for where you will be.

Where do you plan on being during the 2017 total solar eclipse and do you plan on being in the path of totality to watch it?

[Featured Image by David McNew/Getty Images]