Neil deGrasse Tyson Says 'There's No Excuse' for Skipping the Solar Eclipse
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the beloved astrophysicist and space-themed tie aficionado, has aptly dubbed the historic total solar eclipse on August 21 as “’Muuurica's Eclipse” because only those in the continental United States will have the exclusive privilege of experiencing the stunning darkness of its totality as it passes from Oregon to South Carolina. So, as far as he's concerned, you have no excuse for failing to get out and witness the awe-inspiring celestial event yourself. You already have a good seat.
Tyson made his case for seeing the once-in-a-lifetime eclipse during a panel discussion he led on the subject at the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium in New York on Monday. He was joined by Jackie Faherty, a senior scientist and education manager at the planetarium, and Joe Rao, a planetarium associate and meteorologist for Verizon FIOS1 News, who both gave presentations detailing the basics of the eclipse (shown in a video below) and the best ways to watch it.
When asked by Thrillist what they'd say to someone on the fence about taking the time to see the eclipse, all three experts were quick to offer damn good reasons to get out there and experience the spectacle, but Tyson didn't hold back.
"For those who [say] you’re not going to see the eclipse, there is no excuse! There’s nothing you can say to justify not going to the eclipse," he said. "I don’t even want to hear it -- just talk to the hand. There’s nothing you can tell me. We live in a day when everyone can travel. It’s not like 400 years ago when nobody had a car, nobody had an airplane. Today, everyone has access to mobility, so there is no excuse."
In other words, the highly quotable astrophysicist has no time for your bullshit.
"When I think of the solar system and the objects in orbit on their paths, I think of them as pirouetting dancers in a cosmic ballet, choreographed by the forces of gravity," he said. "And so, knowing this as an astrophysicist, to recognize that occasionally things line up in ways that are uncommon or unusual either in your life experience or for the earth itself — to deny yourself of that opportunity would be to not live as full of a life as you could have experiencing the natural world around you."
Rao, who has witnessed several solar eclipses throughout his life, offered up some equally strong advice: don't spend the whole time watching the eclipse through your iPhone's camera.
"If you're going to see if for the first time, totality, don't stand outside with your iPhone and look at the eclipse like this," he said, pretending to hold a phone up in the air. "Please, don't do that. Soak it up. Enjoy it. If you want pictures, get someone nearby to send you pictures of the event. This is something to enjoy and take every single second in because, again, every single second is precious in the short time that the eclipse is in totality."
And while Faherty said this doesn't mean you have to leave your phone at home during the eclipse, Tyson explained why you should probably set it down for the few moments of spectacular darkness.
"I get it," he said. "You want to then look at it later, but then you would not have experienced it in the moment with your own eyes looking at the real event. Maybe, like I said, just put down your smartphone. Experience this one emotionally, physiologically, physically, rather than just through the screen."
Sure, you can look at your phone and take as many damn pictures and videos as you want during the eclipse, the panel's advice be damned. They're only some of the world's top experts on the subject, right? Speaking of expertise, Tyson and the panelists provided additional insights on how to truly experience the eclipse throughout the hour-long discussion, which you can watch in full below.
Wanna see the solar eclipse for yourself? Check out Thrillist's state-by-state watch guides to the best viewing spots in Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina and Wyoming.