Kate HowellsFeb 20, 2024

How to host an eclipse party

Hosting a solar eclipse-watching party is a fantastic way to share one of nature’s most awe-inspiring events with your friends and family. Planning ahead can make an eclipse a memorable and safe viewing experience. Here’s a guide to hosting a successful eclipse-watching party.

Check the date and time

The very first step in planning for an eclipse viewing is to find out exactly when the eclipse will happen in your location.

2024 Total Solar Eclipse Map

An interactive map showing exactly when the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse will happen across North America

Some eclipses last longer than others, so be sure to check the duration of the eclipse as well. If you’re watching a total solar eclipse, there will be longer periods of partial coverage leading up to and following totality, so you’ll need to decide whether you want to watch the entire eclipse from start to finish or a shorter period of time around totality.

Total Solar Eclipse Montage
Total Solar Eclipse Montage Eclipse montage, as seen from Glenrock, WY. Shot with a Canon T3i, 55-250mm lens and Baader solar film.Image: Corey Chapman

How to safely view a total solar eclipse

To avoid risking permanent eye damage, you need eye protection to watch a solar eclipse. The easiest way to ensure eye safety is using solar eclipse glasses. These should be special glasses that say “ISO 12312-2” on them and are made by a vendor approved by the American Astronomical Society. Otherwise, your glasses don’t meet international safety standards and aren’t fit for solar viewing.

Check out our complete solar eclipse glasses guide to learn more. You can also purchase The Planetary Society’s solar eclipse glasses from AAS-approved vendor American Paper Optics.

Choose a viewing location

Find a spot that offers a clear, unobstructed view of the sky. Public parks, open fields, rooftops, and even backyards can be great choices. Make sure the location is easily accessible and comfortable for guests, considering amenities like bathrooms and seating. Depending on the weather, you might want to plan to bring blankets, sunscreen, hats, or bug spray so that you and your guests are comfortable throughout the event.

If possible, go to your chosen location the day before at the same time as the eclipse to make sure the Sun won’t be hidden by a tree, neighboring building, or anything else. 

If you’re traveling to reach the eclipse, check out our tips on getting to and from potentially crowded viewing locations.

Plan for safe viewing

Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection. Provide or remind guests to bring solar eclipse glasses. You’ll probably need to plan ahead for this, since eclipse glasses can be hard to get your hands on in the days and weeks before an eclipse. 

If you’re planning on using a telescope or binoculars to enhance your eclipse experience, make sure they’re equipped with solar filters.

If you don’t have access to eclipse glasses or viewing cards, prepare ways to observe the effects of the eclipse indirectly. Shadows are the best way to do this, since partial eclipses cast crescent-shaped shadows through holes (like in pinhole projectors and even kitchen colanders) and dappled leaves.

Eclipse shadows
Eclipse shadows A partial solar eclipse viewed through the holes of an ordinary colander.Image: Joe Mabel

Set the atmosphere

A little creativity can turn an eclipse-viewing event into a party. Make Sun and Moon decorations and thematic refreshments. Think crescent-shaped cookies, moon pies, and sun tea. Make a playlist of space-themed music to play in the background with songs like “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler or “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.

Educate your guests

Eclipses are even more enjoyable when you know a few things about them. You can learn all about eclipses by reading articles, watching videos, or taking an online course. You can also brush up on your knowledge about the Sun and the Moon and missions that explore them. During your event, you can share with your guests some of the coolest things you learned. Invite your guests to share their knowledge, too.

There are also lots of great educational activities for kids to learn about and enjoy eclipses.

Set up a camera

Eclipse chasers recommend not focusing on trying to take your own photos of the eclipse itself unless you have special camera equipment and expertise. If you’re just working with a smartphone, a better plan is to set it up on a tripod facing you and your group and record your reactions to the eclipse. This can capture a much more meaningful memory of the experience, and you can always find professionals’ photos of the eclipse itself online afterward.

Have a backup plan

Weather can be unpredictable, and clouds can spoil even the best-made plans. It’s important to have a setup ready to watch a livestream of the eclipse just in case the view from your location is obstructed.

By following all of these steps, you can make sure that your eclipse-watching party is fun, safe, and memorable for everyone. Happy eclipse watching!

Experience the Total Solar Eclipse

A total solar eclipse is coming across North America on April 8, 2024, and you're invited to experience it with The Planetary Society. Explore maps, eclipse glasses, and merch as you get ready for totality.

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