News & Updates

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse the Leave No Trace Way

Faith Overall - February 13, 2024

On April 8, 2024, parts of the world will experience a total solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse is when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. Much like in the eclipse in August of 2017, people have already booked their campsites and hotels and are headed for destinations across the US to experience this super solar excitement. 

It is essential to follow these Leave No Trace guidelines when checking out the eclipse so that we can enjoy the view and protect ourselves and the outdoors while we do it.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

If you plan to travel to watch the eclipse, reserve your stay ahead of time. Many hotels, short-term rentals, and campsites may already be booked, so don’t wait; make travel plans now. Look outside of popular destinations for places to stay or watch the eclipse. This is a great way to support small communities and avoid the crowds. 

Just because the moon is blocking the sun doesn’t mean it is safe to stare at it. No matter how dark, sunglasses are not safe for viewing the sun and neither are cameras or binoculars. Protect your eyes by purchasing eclipse glasses or using an indirect viewing method. You can use a pinhole projector, such as a notecard with a hole punched into it or a colander that projects the sun’s image onto a nearby surface. Whatever you do, don’t look at the sun through the hole. 

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Some places may have large groups of people gathering in one area to view the eclipse. It only takes 25 passes for vegetation to be damaged and with a large number of people moving around one location, there is an even higher chance of damage being done. Protect plants and local ecosystems while watching the eclipse or traveling to your viewing area by sticking to durable surfaces such as established walkways or trails, dirt, sand, or rock. If you are camping, camp only in existing or designated campsites to protect vegetation. 

Before the eclipse, research the availability of specific areas or events designed for solar viewing. Attending one of these events may reduce your impact and give you access to public amenities such as bathrooms, trash cans, water stations and more. Finally, respect private property no matter where you watch from. 

Be Considerate of Others 

In 2017, a record number of people watched the total solar eclipse, with 215 million Americans heading outside to watch the event. This year’s spectacle is expecting a similar turnout. Whether watching from a coordinated event or with neighbors in a local park, be conscious of the experience of others. Be mindful of your group’s noise level; some viewers may want to listen to the quiet that reportedly comes with the moon blocking the sun. 

Keep in mind that some cities and towns may be experiencing a higher-than-normal number of visitors if they are in the path of totality. This means crowds may easily overwhelm everything from restaurants to grocery stores. Remember that if you are in the crowd, you are part of the crowd. A smile, patience and a little kindness will go a long way to ensure you and others enjoy the day. When it is time to head home, help take care of the community and outdoor areas by packing out everything you brought with you. Leave the area as nice or better than you found it!

This year’s solar eclipse is sure to be an exciting spectacle! By following these simple practices, we can all enjoy the eclipse and protect nature while we do it!

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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