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Tips on Preparing for the August 21 Total Solar Eclipse

Please note that Nikon does not manufacture solar filters. Consult with your camera dealer to find a proper solar filter to fit your lens.

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible in the continental United States was in 1979. On August 21, 2017 you’ll have the first chance in decades to view a total solar eclipse from within the continental US. If you miss it, you’ll have to wait until 2024 for another chance; that is unless you want to travel around the world to chase the next eclipse.

Did you know that both lunar and solar eclipses often happen twice a year? Not every eclipse is a total eclipse, and some will be visible over land while others are only visible from the middle of an ocean, but they do occur quite regularly.

Fourteen states will be in the path of totality (that part of the eclipse where it can be seen as a total eclipse). They are: South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming and Oregon. Small parts of Georgia, North Carolina and Kansas will also be in the total Eclipse path; and even smaller parts of Montana and Iowa will be in its path. Most other states in America will able to view a partial solar Eclipse, as well as the northern third of South America, westernmost Europe and Africa.

What time is the eclipse going to happen? Well, it depends on where you are in the country. It will be morning on the west coast, but early afternoon on the east coast. Landfall on the Pacific coastline of Oregon is at 10:16am PDT. The time from start to finish is less than two hours.

Duration of the total Eclipse depends where in the path you’re standing but ranges from just under 2 minutes to a little over 2 1/2 minutes long.

Your only obstacles in viewing the eclipse? The weather and crowds. As far as the weather goes, your viewing may be left in Mother Nature’s hands. If you’re traveling somewhere to view the eclipse, plan on alternate locations in the event that the sky is partially overcast. As for the crowds, make your plans now, as choice locations are booked already.

August 21st Solar Eclipse Viewing and Photographing

Solar Eclipses are not safe to be viewed by the naked eye, so you must prepare to take the appropriate precautions to keep from harming your eyesight. Do not view or photograph the sun without the use of a solar filter and appropriate protective eyewear designed for viewing a solar eclipse. Failure to observe the proper precautions may result in permanent eye damage or vision loss.

Just as importantly, if you’re photographing the eclipse, you need to utilize a solar filter on the front end of the lens or use a telescope specifically designed for viewing solar eclipses, or else you could harm the camera’s image sensor. Do not place a solar filter in the filter slot located near the rear element of the larger telephoto lenses.

The only time during a solar eclipse when its safe to look directly at the sun without a solar filter is during totality. In fact, you have to take your solar filter off the camera to photograph the totality of the eclipse, putting it back on to capture the back end of the eclipse as the moon moves away from obstructing the sun.

For more details on viewing and photographing a solar eclipse, check out the article How to Photograph a solar Eclipse and visit Mr. Eclipse’s website at for even more detailed information on the science behind an eclipse. Also check out the EclipseWise website for very detailed information about the August 21 eclipse.

photo by Fred Espenak of a solar eclipse in 2016, shot in Indonesia showing the diamond ring effect

© Fred Espenak

The diamond ring effect during a total solar eclipse. Shot in Indonesia, March 16, 2016. Nikon D800, f/8, 1/60 second, ISO 400.

Google map of the path of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse in the USA

Google map of the continental USA, showing the path the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse will take in its path across the country. The path of the eclipse was generated by Fred Espenak, a.k.a. Mr. Eclipse and is provided courtesy of Google and Fred Espenak/EclipseWise website. The map shows the two points in the country that will see the greatest duration and the greatest eclipse.

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