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10 things you should bring to a solar eclipse viewing


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A partial solar eclipse will be visible across the nation, but only some states will experience a total solar eclipse. (iStock)

A total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. on Monday, April 8. During a total solar eclipse, the moon blocks total light from the sun and appears to cover it entirely. It will darken the skies, and you'll be able to see bright stars and planets. But the most spectacular thing to see will be the sun's magnificent corona, according to scientists. It is considered a unique event in the known universe.

If this is your first total solar eclipse, you are in for a treat, but you should take steps to ensure safety. Except during the brief total phase, when the moon completely blocks the sun, it is not safe to look directly at the sun during an eclipse event without specialized eye protection for solar viewing.  

The most important thing to remember when viewing a solar eclipse is to not look directly at the sun. Eclipse glasses are one way to watch an eclipse safely. These glasses contain filters certified to reduce the visible sunlight to a level that won't damage your eyes and block ultraviolet and infrared radiation. But make sure you are not using them with cameras, binoculars or telescopes. These require different types of solar filters. Solar filters are attachments that protect your eyes and equipment from the sun's intense brightness. 

Beyond eye protection, fancy viewing products like specially designed telescopes and binoculars can enhance your experience. Make sure to bring a comfortable chair and sun protection, too.

10 things that will enhance your solar viewing experience:

The Solar Observatory for Your Smartphone (Single Pack) $15.95

Use this all-in-one to safely view the eclipse with your eye or smartphone. (Amazon)

This solar viewer will help you safely view with your eye and capture the solar phenomena with your smartphone all at once. The viewer is compatible with most smartphones.  

Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ AZ Solar Telescope $213.95

Comprised of a telescope and a safety solar filter, the Celestron StarSense Explorer Refractor Telescope with EclipSmart Solar Filter Kit can be used to observe a solar eclipse. (B&H Photo Video)

The Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ AZ Refractor Telescope with EclipSmart Solar Filter Kit is a telescope that can be used for safe solar viewing. It features an 80mm f/11 refractor optical tube, a smartphone app for star navigation, and is ISO-certified for safe solar viewing.

Sun Catcher Solar Eclipse Glasses (4-Pack) $9.99

Keep your eyes safe with these approved viewing glasses. (Explore Scientific)

Protect your eyes with certified glasses. This 4-pack from Sun Catcher has been tested and approved by ICS Labs for Direct Observation of the Sun. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get these approved Solar Eclipse Glasses, on sale now for $8.99, delivered to your door in 24 hours. You can join or start a 30-day free trial to shop. 

Smartphone Solar Imaging, Enhancing Photo Lens 2 Pack $11.99, now $9.99

You will need this solar film to safely view the eclipse with a phone. (Amazon)

You can purchase solar-safe white-light film and place it over your phone's image sensor to protect the device during solar imaging. The VisiSolar Smartphone Solar Imaging, Enhancing Photo Lens 2 Pack is optimized to capture the magic of a solar event with the utmost precision. This Hestia device from Vaonis will transform your smartphone into a smart telescope without complex setups or extensive knowledge of astronomy.

Sunoculars $24.95

These sunoculars are designed for eclipse viewing. (LUNT solar systems)

Once adequate eye protection is in place, you can look at ways to zoom in on the spectacle. Solar binoculars should meet the ISO 12312-2:20 international safety standard to avoid causing permanent damage to your eyes. These binoculars are designed for crystal-clear views of sunspots, eclipses and planetary transits. They have a 6x magnification and manual focus. Try these Celestron 10x25 EclipSmart Solar Binoculars for premium performance and superior safety. You can find them at Best Buy for $43.99. For a disposable option, try these Celestron 2x EclipSmart Solar Observing Binoculars for $16.95. 

Road Atlas for the Solar Eclipse $19.79

Plot the best course for viewing with a map. (Amazon)

While a partial eclipse will be visible from North America, the total eclipse will only be visible in certain states. This Road Atlas for the Total Solar Eclipse of 2024 will help you plot the best course to catch the total eclipse. Texas will get some prime viewing of the eclipse. Find out where the best spots are with this Texas Total Eclipse Guide.

Coleman Broadband Mesh Quad Camping Chair $29.99, now $20.00

Make sure to pack a comfortable viewing chair. (Amazon)

While the eclipse might be brief, depending on your location, you could wait for several hours. This Coleman Broadband Mesh Quad Camping Chair is a good choice for its portability and comfort. For an even lighter option, try the CLIQ Portable Chair, which collapses like an umbrella to the size of a water bottle for easy transport. It is on sale for $109.99 from $129.99.

"Who turned off the Sun," $7.59

Explain the eclipse to little ones with this book. (Amazon)

Do you need to explain the significance of a total solar eclipse to your children? Lisa Combs's "Who turned off the Sun" is a great place to start. This book delves into some of the mythical explanations generations before us had for the celestial event. Young scientists will find the most up-to-date eclipse information in "What is a Solar Eclipse," which is available at Barnes & Noble for $13.99. 

Total Solar Eclipse Of 2024 Bigfoot T-Shirt, $22.00

A t-shirt to capture the big event. (Teepublic)

Commemorative t-shirts are a great way to mark this special occasion. This Bigfoot T-Shirt, designed and sold by Pizza Slice, blends style and legend. This t-shirt on Amazon shows the phases of the eclipse and the date. 

 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Sugar Cookies, $43.61 for a dozen

Hand out commemorative cookies for a yummy treat. (Zazzle)

Will you be hosting a viewing party? Send your guests home with a commemorative 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Date Starry Sky Sugar Cookie from Zazzle. It is an easy way to digest the day's events! Or opt for a non-edible favor and hand out these Total Solar Eclipse Pinback Buttons. Get a 25-pack for $19.99 delivered to your door in 24 hours if you are an Amazon Prime member.

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Nora Colomer is a personal finance writer for Fox Business' Strategic Initiatives team.

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