Those who are not in the path of totality simply must travel into the path in order to see one of the most spectacular things they will ever see in their life. The task is difficult, because it is natural to believe that if one is “close” to the path, one will see something that is “pretty good”. But just as the person who only smells the meal outside of the restaurant remains hungry, so too do those who observe the eclipse from outside the path of totality end the day wondering what, indeed, all the fuss was about.
For those who experience this eclipse outside the path, a partial eclipse is all they will see. Even if the sun is 99.9% eclipsed for these observers, they will not experience the full, jaw-dropping, knee-buckling, emotionally-overloading, completely overwhelming spectacle that is totality.
Partial eclipses are somewhat interesting, in that with the proper eye protection (which MUST be used at all times), one can see the Moon moving slowly across the face of the Sun, but there is no dramatic moment of totality. No beautiful diamond ring gracing the edge of the Moon’s disk. No intense darkening of the skies. No stars and planets suddenly revealing themselves against an impossible twilight. No corona flashing into view (the otherworldly beauty of which makes even veteran total eclipse observers gasp in amazement).
There is no pitch-blackened disk of the Sun. No discernable temperature drop. No impossible nighttime during the day. No scintillating chromosphere or glorious prominences. No 360-degree sunset effect around the horizon. No uncontrollable shouts of emotional overload from the assembled crowd. No lingering post-eclipse sensation of certainty that you have just experienced one of the coolest things you’ll ever see in your life.
A partial eclipse is interesting but forgettable, while a total eclipse is a memorable, life-changing event which burns itself into memory – and never fades. And so we, who have seen this sight, ask you to join us on this momentous day, and do everything you possibly can to see it with us. But you must remember that “close” is not close enough; in order to see the eclipse in all its glory, you simply must get to the path of totality!