There's a lot of hype around the three-minute experience of the solar eclipse coming on August 21 across the U.S. As a busy entrepreneur or hustling professional, you may be wondering if it's worth it to watch. I was 12 and living in the Southeast for the last solar eclipse. I remember it like it was last week. If you haven't experienced a near-total eclipse, my take is, you're going to love it. You should make room for it no matter how busy you are. It's easier to view than you think and certainly easier than all the guides to eclipse viewing make it seem. Here are some practical tacticals.
The solar eclipse is stunningly beautiful
It's not the sun that's the beautiful part. Don't even worry about looking at it. What's really beautiful is being on Earth in the ethereal light of the corona. A solar eclipse is a full-on physical experience that goes far beyond the light.
- Sound around you changes, as most animals and plants go through their nightly routine.
- Look at what happens under trees--the leaf patterns become crescent shadows. Every little hole projects the eclipse, like magic.
- Plait your fingers together and let the sun shine through tiny gaps by your finger webbing. Your hand shadow on the ground will morph into magical little crescents, each tracking the precise stage of the moon over the sun.
- As the light changes, bands of shadow ripple over flat ground. It feels like the air becomes breathable, cool water. Later, I learned the ripples are the shadows of dust in the atmosphere carried on high winds. Usually, the sunlight is too strong for us to see them, but during eclipses you can.
You don't need to go somewhere special to get a grand view of the solar eclipse
It's terrific that so many parks and other places in the 70-mile wide "totality" have viewing parties. Keep in mind, however, that the eclipse itself lasts only about three minutes. When I saw the near-total eclipse in 1984, I remember stepping outside the loading dock of our family business into a world of green, watery light.
I was instantly on another planet with different physical rules. Under a tree nearby, the shadows went from summer leaf shuffles to dancing crescent moons. The moon seemed massive as it creaked across the sun. The temperature went down and with that, a wind blew in. These impressions were all the stronger for me because they happened in an environment I knew intimately--the family business's parking lot. My familiarity with the surroundings made the moments of the eclipse stand out as truly strange. It may be that way for you, too. There's something to be said for letting the experience stand out by having it in a setting you know well.
You don't need to make or buy anything to enjoy the solar eclipse
Just so you know: You can't miss the eclipse unless it's cloudy. You don't need special stuff to enjoy it as a whole body, whole sensory experience. Pin hole shadow makers? Your hands work fine. So do trees. Want to look right at it? The photos afterward will be way better than your eyes, anyway.
I remember squinting at it. I didn't get fried, but I realize it can be dangerous, so I'm not suggesting you stare. I'm just sharing that a quick squint didn't stunt my eyes. Because the precise state of the eclipse is captured in crescent shadows, which you can make with your hands, you can't miss the progress of the moon across the sun. Nor should you. A few minutes later, everything returns to normal so fast it can seem like the celestial dance you just participated in was a dream.
Love to hear more comments or thoughts from other everyday eclipse participants about what makes the moment great. Please share in the comments field or on Twitter.