You might have your eclipse-viewing plans all worked out, but have you thought about all the other things you might need?

View of eclipse above an observatory
The 2019 total solar eclipse over the European Southern Observatory at La Silla, Chile
ESO & M. Zamani

So you think you’re prepared for your eclipse viewing experience: You’ve picked where you’re watching from and made travel and lodging arrangements, you’ve got your solar eclipse glasses, and you know not to look through binoculars or a telescope unless it has a filter on the end of it.

But there are some other things you might want to think about before the big day:

  1. Toilet paper — Wherever you're going to see the eclipse — especially in the path of totality — there's a good chance there will be a lot of other people there, too. And while your venue hopefully has procured sufficient facilities, some extra TP is never a bad thing.
  2. Hand sanitizer — On the same note, while the venue has hopefully thought about hand-washing stations, the last thing you want to exit a port-a-potty only to find you have no way of washing your hands.
  3. Water and snacks — Eclipse-watching is thirsty business — and as the Moon eats the Sun, you can get hungry, too! Bring snacks to keep everyone in your group happy. More importantly, bring water. If there’s no running water at your venue, you’re not going to want to depend on there being someone selling water (although it'd makes for a lucrative business idea). Bring enough water for double the length of time you think you’ll be at the venue — especially if you're planning on heading home the same day, because traffic could be a bear. Everyone will be leaving eclipse venues at around the same time, so traffic will probably be terrible. Plan accordingly.
  4. Printed directions or an honest-to-goodness GPS device — As crowds increase, especially in regions that typically don't get that much traffic, cellular networks can become overtaxed. Don’t get lost on your journey — plan for low (or no) signal and have printed directions and/or a map to make sure you know where you are and where you’re going.
  5. Gas — If you’re headed to a rural area, keep your gas tank as full as possible. You never know when the next gas stop will be, so better to fill up whenever you can, especially since traffic will probably make the journey (especially the journey home) longer than your printed directions estimate. You might consider bringing and filling a gas can as well — but make sure it’s designed to be a gas can. Don’t use a random container!
  6. Bug spray — If you’re going to be hanging out in a field, keep your distance from six-legged friends with some good bug spray. Long sleeves could also be a good idea, depending on your location and weather.
  7. Sunscreen — We're all hoping for clear skies, but spending hours watching an eclipse means you'll want to protect yourself from the Sun. You'll probably be grateful if you bring a sunhat, too.
  8. First aid kit — While you're packing up that bug spray and sunscreen, add a first aid kit, too. Some band-aids and neosporin can go a long way, especially if you're traveling with kids!
  9. Folding chairs or a picnic blanket — The full eclipse will last about a couple hours, and you won't want to be standing the whole time. Bring something that's comfortable for you to sit on.
  10. An external charger — If you forget to turn off your phone, or if you’re determined to wait the two hours it might take to send a text, you’ll be happy to have a charger that doesn’t require being connected to the electrical grid.
  11. Unplugged entertainment — The eclipse is going to be an awesome opportunity to meet people from all over and share an amazing experience. In the lead-up to the eclipse, make some new friends and invite them to join you in a card or board game.

For more eclipse advice, check out our eclipse homepage as well as Fred Espenak's photography checklist.


Image of Andrew James

Andrew James

April 5, 2024 at 7:01 pm

12. Crossed Fingers -- Hope the weather gods are kind to you.

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Image of Edith-Thornburg


April 5, 2024 at 9:19 pm

binoculars, colander, wear red/green 🙂

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