Solar eclipse checklist: Everything you need to pack, bring with you on eclipse day

The Great American Eclipse of 2017, the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States coast to coast in nearly 100 years, is expected to attract massive crowds in cities along the centerline path of totality.

» RELATED: The ultimate guide to the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse this August

Location, weather and time are the three most important factors for actually catching the solar eclipse in all its totality.

1. You want to be within 200 miles of the centerline path, where the moon completely blocks the sun, the earth goes dark and the sun's corona shimmers in the blackened sky.

2. Check the weather forecast before heading over, because cloudy skies could ruin your eclipse views. It may be smart to come up with a contingency plan, too.

3. Know when to tune in. The total solar eclipse will begin at 8:46 a.m. PST (11:46 a.m. EDT) in Salem, Oregon, and end near Charleston, South Carolina, with a period of totality lasting up to 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds.

After you’ve made your travel plans for the Aug. 21 event, don’t let forgetfulness get the best of you on eclipse day.

Use this eclipse packing list to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Your eclipse safety equipment: Remember, the only time you can look at the eclipse without one of these devices is during totality, when the sun is completely obscured by the moon. Pack at least one of the following per person:
    • Certified eclipse glasses (and extras)
      • Make sure your glasses do not have any creases or damage. If they do, replace immediately with a spare pair.
    • Pinhole projector or pinhole camera with additional materials
    • Safe solar filters
    • Solar viewing cards
    • Other eclipse devices approved by the American Astronomical Society
  • Sunglasses
    • Standard sunglasses will not protect your eyes from possible damage during the eclipse itself, but you may want to bring a pair for general protection during the rest of the day.
  • Paper maps and driving directions
    • It's likely that you'll either cross an area or be within an area without cell service. Go old school and print out your driving directions and a map of your eclipse-watch site to supplement your car or phone navigation system.
    • Print out paper maps and driving directions for your contingency location in case your initial location doesn't pan out.
  • Comfortable clothing and hats
  • Folding chairs or a picnic blanket
  • Sunscreen
  • A full gas tank
  • Bug repellent
  • First aid kit
  • Food and drinks
  • Device that shows accurate time (phone or digital watch)
  • GoPro (optional)
  • Extra batteries for any additional equipment
  • If you’re camping, also pack:
    • Tent
    • Sleeping bags
  • If you’re photographing the eclipse, also pack:
    • Telescopes
    • Eyepieces
    • Mounts
    • Power sources
    • Binoculars
    • Cameras
    • Tripods
    • Lenses
    • Solar filters
    • Remote release

About the Author