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Keep your eyes on the eclipse

Don't miss totality in an attempt to get that perfect close-up shot.
The other day, I watched my 12-year-old granddaughter, Katie, compete in a gymnastics meet. I honestly watched — no fiddling with my camera to get a perfect action shot and no squinting through my mini-binoculars for a close-up view as she straddled the balance beam or performed her floor exercise. Without the distractions, I was able to relax and enjoy her routines.

This brings me to August’s total solar eclipse and a suggestion for those of you who will be standing in the Moon’s shadow for the first time: Take in the spectacle unencumbered by extra gear. Far too many people have missed totality while fussing with a camera or a telescope. My experience with my first total solar eclipse — the one that crossed much of Canada on July 10, 1972 — should prove the point.

At the time, I was on the staff of the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The planetarium had organized a few expeditions to view the eclipse. While several people went to Nova Scotia, I was part of a foursome that traveled to Prince Edward Island. Accompanying me were high school science teacher Nick NiCastro, local radio broadcaster Dave Svens, and chemical engineer Ray Latham. Ray had a pilot’s license and flew us to the island in a rented Cessna.

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