Thousands of people will trek to the hinterlands on August 1 just to stand in the dark for three minutes. The reason: a total solar eclipse is set to sweep over a path spanning from China to Canada. Wired clues would-be eclipse chasers in on ways to maximize each sunless second.
- Maximum shadow time: This year the Russian city of Nadym will see the longest total eclipse, set to click in at 2 minutes, 27 seconds. Don't waste your time traveling to a partial eclipse.
- Weather: Check the forecast for clear skies, whose importance often trumps shadow time.
- Travel: Avoid buildings, forests, and mountains, and be prepared to shift locations.
- Gear: Don't fry your eyes. Aluminized Mylar or No. 14 welder's glass make good shades. The view through a properly equipped telescope "will blow your mind."
- Shadow protocol: When people applaud and the temperature drops 10 degrees, stop trying to take pictures and soak in the experience of being able to see something that's 93 million miles away.