What to do if you’re flying during an eclipse

America has just experienced its first total solar eclipse in almost 40 years – a phenomenon that only occurs once every couple of decades. This total solar eclipse is the first in 38 years, so some say that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Now, if you're in Australia, you're asleep and this eclipse won't affect you at all. But, if you're flying from Melbourne airport to the States, then you might just be able to catch it!

Even if you don't get to see the eclipse while flying, you can see a total lunar eclipse in Melbourne on Wednesday, January 31, 2018! But if it's a solar eclipse you're after, you'll have to wait until July 13, 2018 for a partial solar eclipse. 

So if you're flying from Australia to the States, and the plane cabin goes from being filled with bright sunshine to complete darkness (and we're not talking darkness from a little cloud cover) then you might be in the middle of an eclipse. What do you do? We'll tell you!

If you're flying during an eclipse 

At first, you might think it would be totally cool to be flying during an eclipse, especially if you have window seat. It's almost like getting a front row seat to the show – up close and personal. But, you have to be careful. You've always been warned never to look at the sun with your naked eye, but since the sun is covered it must be okay, right? Wrong!

Looking at an eclipse without protection can cause visual impairments or even permanent blindness. Even if you are looking at the eclipse through a camera lens you can still damage your eyes. NASA explains that you can look at the eclipse without protection only when the sun is totally covered by the moon. Totality (aka when the moon is fully in front of the sun) lasts for about two minutes altogether. But unless you know the exact time, and unless you're in the exact location, it's not work the risk. 

How to protect your eyes 

While the number one rule may be, 'don't look', there are still ways to view and enjoy the eclipse! If you want to see a total solar eclipse without damaging your eyes, you can! You just need the proper protection. 

There are special eclipse glasses that have a special-purpose filter on them that you can purchase.

There are ways to make your own eclipse protective eyewear, but according to NASA, you shouldn't trust homemade options. Fortunately, there are special eclipse glasses that have a special-purpose filter on them that you can purchase instead. You just have to make sure you're buying from a reputable vendor. These glasses should have a shade 12 or higher, similar to those of what a welder would wear. Make sure your glasses are in good condition as you board the plane, if they have any scratches they will become ineffective. 

Before you look at the sun, make sure your glasses are completely secure on your face and fully covering your eyes. Once you've finished viewing the eclipse, look away and then remove the glasses. Do not take off the glasses before looking away. If you want to take pictures, leave the glasses on and look through the lens. 

Of course, there are also options to watch the eclipse online, as many media sites will be filming the event for interested viewers across the world. 

Now you're ready to travel during a total solar eclipse! And don't forget, when you're travelling via Melbourne's airport, be sure to use Pacific Airport Parking to park your car before shuttling you to the terminal. We even have services like car detailing to help give your vehicle a little pampering while you're away.