Total solar eclipse to cast shadow across US

Aug. 21 will mark the first total solar eclipse to travel across America in 99 years. Because of this there are some things viewers must know in order to stay safe, but still enjoy the rare moment. The following are tips from NASA on how to have a successful viewing.

The first, and probably most important tip provided, is in regards to safety.  While observing the total eclipse, it’s necessary to wear protective eye gear. Solar filter glasses have been made specifically for this purpose. Experts suggest wearing glasses that are in the shade of 12, they will offer the proper coverage. It’s critical to ensure that these glasses are in good working condition, without any scratches or other damages. Do not look at the sun directly through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or other device without these glasses. Once the sun has been completely covered, or entered totality mode your protective glasses can be removed for that brief moment.

If a person wants to take photos of the total solar eclipse any camera will do the trick. However, actions must be taken in order to ensure safety and produce quality photos. A person will need to wear protective eye gear described above, as well as have a special solar filter to protect the camera lens. Those taking photos may also consider using a tripod to limit potential blurriness. The key to producing a quality photo will be knowing the capabilities of your camera or camera phone. The settings matter and so does practicing with these settings.

Clouds can greatly impact the view of the day’s special event. It’s important to check the weather channel to guarantee the locations’ visibility on the day. Without clear skies, there won’t be much of a show.

According to Kristina Harter, Northwest Nebraska Tourism Director, Alliance is expected to get somewhere between 15,000-20,000 visitors soley for the purpose of viewing the total solar eclipse. And Chadron is expected to see somewhere between 10,000-15,000 visitors throughout the weekend, including the day of the eclipse. Due to the high number of travelers in the area, hotels and lodging areas have limited, if any, space left. Harter also said local residents are renting out their houses, or land for camping purposes.

Harter offered some advice for community members: fill up on gas early if needed, stock up on groceries, plan ahead and if traveling anywhere leave early. Due to the expected increase in population, these precautions should be considered.

Lastly, invite your friends and enjoy the moment. This isn’t something that happens often, so it’s essential to make the most of it.

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