The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Please help us cover our annual website operations cost! The Jackson-Reed Beacon is a fully independent, student run newspaper that receives all of its operational costs from generous donations.

Pro-Tips for Eclipse Chasing

Pro-Tips+for+Eclipse+Chasing

This past April, I witnessed the total solar eclipse in Waco, Texas. As the sky darkened around me, and the sun turned into a glowing ring around a pit of emptiness, I had only one thought: the Beacon needs to hear about this. 

Unlike what everyone on Instagram and TikTok would have you believe, solar eclipses are not a once-in-a-lifetime event (unless you’re a mosquitofish and your lifespan is 18 months). So, here are some pro tips for your next eclipse chase, brought to you by a practical professional (me). 

Tip 1: Actually see the total eclipse. If you’re venturing out of your way to improve your eclipse experience, don’t stop at anything less than 100% totality, even if the vacation spot is nicer. Sure, a vacation to Cabo sounds okay, but if it’s a measly 98% eclipse? You might as well stay home. Trust me, it’s worth it. At totality, the stars came out, the street lights turned on, and it was like dusk, but at 1 pm for 4 minutes. Even a sliver of sun will stop the earth from darkening fully and prevent the moon from truly annihilating the day. 

Tip 2: Plan according to your attendees—or ditch your family. At first, we sat in a field about three blocks from “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia compound. It was rife with perfectly chipped mass-manufactured ceramic mugs and rustic cutting boards, and perfect for the post-flip HGTV aesthetic. Less perfect for my grandma. We had to leave the hustle and bustle of the food trucks and live music for a nearby park and playground. This was maybe not the right move (my 6-year-old sister was more concentrated on the plastic slide than the actual life-changing, soul-awakening, gut-punching, solar phenomenon in the sky). For best viewing, create a plan that suits all of your groups’ needs. Alternatively, you can abandon them and experience the eclipse as intended: howling at the moon in the woods in total isolation. 

Tip 3: Even during totality, don’t take off your eclipse glasses. I’m 100% lying because otherwise, it looks really boring. You should totally (or should I say, totality) take off your eclipse shades. But be ready for your eyes to twitch uncontrollably for the next two to three weeks (I might need to book an optometrist appointment). 

Tip 4: Enjoy the post-totality partial eclipse. Live like the suckers in DC whose peak was a laughable 87%. Honestly, this isn’t so much for your enjoyment, but to hopefully sidestep traffic. In the four hours it took us to get home after the eclipse, I almost threw up from nausea wrought by stop-and-go traffic on farm-to-market dirt roads, we had to use our car doors to make my grandma a makeshift bathroom stall on a street next to a wheat field, and, horror of horrors, my phone died. 0/10, do not recommend. 

Tip 5: Don’t let yourself get roped into an execution. In ancient Babylon, to prevent anything bad happening to the king, they put a commoner on the throne for the duration of the solar eclipse and then executed them when it was over. So, hot tip, don’t be that guy. 

Tip 6: Control the weather. You don’t want to travel to Waco, Texas, just for it to be a cloudy day. Easy fix: just make it sunny. 

Tip 7: After you get home, do not shut up about it. Be the most annoying person anyone has ever met for the foreseeable future. Show your friends (and random people in the hallway) your pictures of totality constantly, and submit them with all of your assignments on Canvas. Ask the Beacon if you can write another eclipse article. Find increasingly chaotic ways to bring up your eclipse trip in conversations (“Yeah, we euthanized my dog last week” “Wow that sucks… reminds me of how, when I saw the total eclipse, it was like the moon was euthanizing the sun” “Dude.”). Don’t let anyone forget your new identity: an eclipse chaser.

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