Silhouette back view of family looking at solar eclipse on dark sky background.

Natural phenomenon. Silhouette back view of mother and child sitting and relaxing together. Boy pointing to solar eclipse on dark sky background. Happy family spending time together. Outdoor.

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Millions of people will be stepping outside to watch the solar eclipse as it crosses the United States from coast to coast on Aug. 21.

With a bit of planning, you can find the perfect spot to see this wonder of nature.

Where to watch

If you’re wanting to see a total solar eclipse, you need to make sure you find a spot within the path of totality. That’s the roughly 70-mile-wide strip where the moon will completely block the sun’s disk.

All Americans, though, will be able to see an impressive partial solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

A good location to watch the eclipse will be one with wide-open spaces, ideally with little light pollution from nearby cities. If you’re going to a popular spot like parks or recreation areas, you’ll want to arrive very early to make sure you can find parking and scout out a good location.

Know the time

Once you’ve picked a broad area for witnessing the eclipse, knowing the time the eclipse will occur can be helpful for narrowing down the exact spot.

Several apps are available on smartphones that can make the calculations easy. You can also search online to find the start and end times for your area.

When you know the correct time of the eclipse, it’s a good idea to go outside a day or two before the eclipse so you’ll know where the sun will be positioned at that moment. You may find a building, tree or other obstruction blocks the view, so you can scout out the best place to set up for eclipse viewing on Aug. 21.

Bring supplies

In addition to your solar filter glasses and camera equipment, you should pack just like you would for any summertime outdoor event.

That means taking lots of extra water, sunblock and snacks. Even though the sun will be blocked for a portion of the time, you’ll still probably be exposed to some strong solar rays before and after the eclipse.

Good stewardship

You should also follow good etiquette to help take care of the natural beauty in your area. Some things to know:

Clean up after yourself. If you pack it in, you should pack it out, including any food scraps or pieces of trash. Any time you utilize the outdoors, your goal should be to tread lightly and leave no trace that you were there.

Follow any fire restrictions. August is a hot, dry month that marks the peak of fire season in many areas. Make sure you follow wildfire safety rules in your area by respecting burn bans, properly putting out campfires and carrying a fire extinguisher or extra water as required.

Use the correct routes. You should try to stay on marked roads and trails that are designed to protect wildlife habitats. If an area is marked as restricted from walking, driving or camping, respect the rules to protect the natural environment.

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