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Is watching eclipse better from space or Earth? An astronaut weighs in

Terry Virts addresses whether viewing an eclipse is better from Earth or while up in space.
Is watching eclipse better from space or Earth? An astronaut weighs in
Posted at 10:26 AM, Mar 26, 2024

Every space lover and the more than a dozen states in the path of totality are preparing for the April 8 total eclipse.

“We’re not going to have another one in America for 40 years so this is a great time to see one,” said Terry Virts, a former NASA astronaut and International Space Station commander.

The path of totality reaches from Central Texas up to Maine.

“My advice is to get yourself as close as you can to the center of that path of totality,” he said.

For some that will even mean driving a couple hours to get there.

“You want to look at the weather. You're better off seeing it on a clear day. Even if it's cloudy, it's still going to turn into night which is really unique,” Virts said.

So, is viewing an eclipse from Earth or space cooler? Virts has seen both.

SEE MORE: This map shows the best time to see the solar eclipse in your city

“From space, we actually weren’t sure if we’d be able to see it. It was 2015, and our orbit and the path of the moon's shadow were about 1,000 miles apart, but it happened over the North Atlantic when we saw it and you could see it. It was amazing, you could see this black circle moving across the planet. It was shocking, I had spent over seven months in space so I had seen a lot of things, and I had never seen anything like the eclipse,” Virts said.

While that sounds like an amazing experience, Virts prefers the sight from Earth.

“Honestly, an eclipse is much better from Earth because you actually experience it. Hopefully there’s wildlife nearby just to see the animals react is really interesting to me. I remember feeling the temperature drop, that was really unexpected. It was more amazing, more special to see it from Earth than it was from space, for me,” he said.

If you plan on watching the total eclipse, make sure you have the proper safety glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.

Sonic Drive-In, in partnership with Virts, is offering a limited edition dragon-fruit-flavored drink called the Blackout Slush Float. Everyone who purchases the drink will receive a free pair of solar eclipse viewing glasses. Sonic also has more than 400 locations in the path of totality.

@scrippsnews Ever wonder what it’s like seeing an #eclipse from #space versus from the ground? We talked to former NASA astronaut Terry Virts, who explained the difference and what his favorite experience was. The next total eclipse will pass through the country on April 8. #totaleclipse ♬ original sound - Scripps News

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