Apr 2, 2024 - News

Bill Nye's tips for eclipse viewing

Bill Nye in eclipse glasses.

Bill Nye, sporting a nifty pair of eclipse glasses. Photo: Courtesy of the Planetary Society

Bill Nye — yes, the science guy — will head to Central Texas this weekend as part of the Planetary Society's two-day camping festival in Fredericksburg for the April 8 total solar eclipse.

What's happening: Nye, the group's CEO, spoke to us ahead of the family-friendly cosmic camping adventure about what he's learned from watching other total solar eclipses.

  • The festival will feature conversations on astronomy and planetary science, hands-on activities, food and "star parties" at The Lodge at Country Cottages.
  • General admission tickets are still available and start at $350 per person. A two-day camping reservation starts at $750.

What they're saying: Nye tells Axios he chose Fredericksburg for the event because it's even closer to the path of totality than Austin, which will see about 1 minute and 40 seconds of darkness.

  • "Two minutes is not four minutes, my friend. We wanted to be where it probably, almost certainly, will not be cloudy."
  • Fredericksburg, an International Dark Sky Community, is expected to experience 4 minutes and 24 seconds of darkness, among the longest in the country.

Here are seven tips from Nye for a spectacular solar eclipse:

Stop and listen: "When it really goes completely dark, it's just amazing. The birds chirp; the crickets cricket. There's usually a bit of a breeze because the ground gets cool and then that cold air is squeezing the warm air up and makes a little bit of a breeze."

Skip the selfie: "Try to be in the moment. Do not focus — pun intended — on taking pictures. Try to just really be there. It's cool."

Look up: "While looking through your eclipse glasses, look out for a couple of bright points of light at the edges, as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth."

  • "You might see two or even three very bright points of light, and that's where the light is passing by mountains and valleys on the moon. If I may, how cool is that?"

Look around: "And then if you have the presence of mind, don't just look up at the sky in the darkness. Look around. Just look at what everybody else is doing. And of course listen and feel the breeze."

Enjoy it with friends: "You want to share the experience. That's why we go to the football games instead of just watching it by ourselves on our phones. You want to be part of it. I can't say enough good things about being with people, sharing the experience."

Make a pinhole viewer: Nye recommends making a pinhole viewer, or just "take your fingers and interlace them and look at the ground just for a moment."

Take a road trip: "The closer you are to the middle of the path, the longer the darkness."

  • "There are a lot of people, and a lot of people in cars. Be careful out there, but it is worth it. Pack a lunch, go to the washroom before you leave, but go out there and enjoy the thing."

What's next: Local officials will hold a press conference at 1pm Tuesday to discuss preparations for the crowds and traffic the eclipse is expected to bring.

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