Is A Partial Solar Eclipse Worth Seeing? Worth Traveling For?

by Joshua

Eclipses, Fun For Kids, moon, sun

Yes, driving to see a partial solar eclipse is definitely worth it. Here's why...

Is there a partial solar eclipse coming your way?

I hope you go see it!

Partial solar eclipses are really cool to see in person.

You’ll get to see part of the Sun being blocked by the Moon.

Sometimes the occurrence of a partial solar eclipse in one place means a total or annular solar eclipse may be visible someplace else. But if you can’t get to a place where a total solar eclipse is visible, you’ll still want to see a partial eclipse.

Partial Solar Eclipses vs. Total Solar Eclipses

I’ve seen a total solar eclipse and a few partial eclipses over the years. The differences are quite literally night and day, but both kinds of solar eclipses are natural splendors worth viewing in their own rights.

One of the biggest differences between a total solar eclipse and a partial solar eclipse is this: During a total solar eclipse, the Moon completely blocks the Sun from the perspective of the viewer on the surface of the Earth.

My wife and I drove 1,200 miles to see the total solar eclipse in 2017!

What it’s like when there is a total solar eclipse:

  • The sky turns dim, almost as if it’s twilight outside.
  • The temperature can drop 10 to 15 degrees in a matter of moments.
  • Birds and other animals may engage in unusual behavior due to the sudden mid-day darkness.
  • Streetlights will come on when their light sensors detect the darkness.
  • The Sun’s corona becomes visible to the naked eye.

When my wife and I traveled to South Carolina to see the 2017 total solar eclipse, we were treated with the extraordinarily rare phenomena I mentioned above. And, let me tell you, it was completely worth it to go see the total solar eclipse in person! Imagine day turning to virtual night almost instantaneously, and looking up at the Sun to see a big, black ball with a silver, shimmery ring around it.

We traveled 1,200 miles to see the total solar eclipse in 2017!

Many will say that seeing a total solar eclipse in person at 100% totality is more than just fascinating — it’s emotional, even life changing.

But what if you can’t make it to see a total solar eclipse? What if all you can see is a partial solar eclipse? Should you even bother?

Absolutely! It is definitely worth seeing a partial solar eclipse in person, as well.

My wife and I looking up at a partial solar eclipse in Florida on April 8, 2024.

What it’s like when there is a partial solar eclipse:

  • The Moon will obscure up to 99.99% of the Sun’s disc as seen by the viewer on Earth’s surface.
  • Depending on how much of the Moon’s shadow is covering the Sun, you may perceive some minor differences in the amount of sunlight visible to the naked eye. (Unless you are experiencing a total solar eclipse with 100% totality where you are, the skies will not go dark.)
  • You might notice colors outdoors appear with less contrast and shadows seem to look funky. You may even see crescent shadows or shadow bands.

This is the shot I captured of the 2024 eclipse as it appeared in Central Florida with about 65% coverage:

My view of the partial solar eclipse from Central Florida on April 8, 2024 -- while wearing protective lenses.

And look at the crescent shadows that were cast from the oak tree above me:

The partial eclipse cast crescent-shaped shadows on the ground. Oak trees were particularly good at showing off the funky crescent-shaped shadows!

The Most Important Thing You Need To Know About Viewing A Partial Solar Eclipse…

If there’s one thing that you get out of this post, it’s that partial eclipses are totally worth seeing!

But that’s not the only point I hope you remember.

There’s something that may be even more important — especially as it concerns your health when viewing a partial solar eclipse. You absolutely must protect your eyes when viewing a partial eclipse — YES, even when there’s 99.9% coverage!

Viewing even a sliver of the Sun with your naked eyes is just as bad as looking directly at the Sun at any other time.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun -- either totally or partially obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth.

You’re probably wondering why you’ve seen photos or videos of people looking up at a total solar eclipse without eye protection

That’s because during 100% totality (and only during 100% totality) the Moon is completely blocking the Sun. So that is the only time viewing a total solar eclipse with the naked eye is safe.

You can permanently damage your eyes if you try looking at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection — even if just for a second… Even if just for a blink.

How to protect your eyes

To protect your eyes when viewing a partial solar eclipse, you can do what my wife and I did during the 2017 and 2024 solar eclipses… we wore proper solar eclipse viewing glasses. (You shouldn’t just buy any solar eclipses glasses though — and certainly don’t just buy the cheapest!)

Make sure you’re buying ISO-approved solar eclipse glasses, which require:

  • No more than 0.00032% of the sun’s light to transmit through the filtered lenses
  • Viewers to be large enough to cover both eyes
  • No defects of any kind
  • Markings or labels that include the manufacturer’s name, warnings and dangers associated with improper use, and instructions for safe viewing of the eclipse

Tasty Solar Eclipse Treats

I’m not going to sugarcoat the ultimate fact that, to me, nothing beats seeing a total solar eclipse in person.

We finally scored our Krispy Kreme eclipse doughnuts!

But if I’m able to view a partial solar eclipse, I’ll make sure I see it. Hands down, all day long… (While wearing the proper eclipse viewing glasses, of course.)

But there was one thing we didn’t get to experience when we saw the 2017 total solar eclipse that we really wanted to: Krispy Kreme eclipse doughnuts.

They were much advertised and apparently quite popular! But all of the Krispy Kreme locations near us were sold out during the 2017 eclipse.

We vowed to try again in 2024. And this time we scored!

See? Partial solar eclipses really are worth seeing… Even worth eating.

Cheers to many more full and partial solar eclipses in your future! And here’s how to make Krispy Kreme eclipse donuts yourself.