Take a Road Trip to See the Great American Eclipse
August 21st, 2017 – The Great American Eclipse. Have you heard the news? This year, for the first time since 1918, both coasts of North America will have a chance to see a total solar eclipse. If there was ever a time in your life to take a road trip, this would be it. The next time all of America will be able to see a solar eclipse is said to be in 2045, a bit of a stretch for those of us already past our prime. SO where to go for the best seats?
Types of Eclipse
There are two types of solar eclipse, and three types of an eclipse in total. Many of us have probably seen a lunar eclipse. The Moon falls into the path of the Earth’s shadow, and it completely disappears before turning a blood red, much like the Blood Moon we saw in the sky back in 2015, but not caused by an eclipse – that was a treat. A solar eclipse is when the Moon’s orbit causes it to cross between the Sun and Earth. When that happens, the Moon’s shadow itself will be cast upon the world, and any in its path will be treated to the great phenomena that is day and night happening simultaneously.
Wrap your head around that for a moment. You’ll be standing in the shadow of the Moon. That great ball of rock in the sky is now standing between you and the Sun, for an average of two minutes. That’s how long the totality will last. For those of you who won’t be in the direct path, you’ll get a partial eclipse, or if lucky, a glimpse of an annular eclipse – that’s when the Sun as it is in the sky is larger than that of the Moon and creates a bit of a ring effect rather than a dark circle with light behind it. Still cool either way, and the entire event can last for about 3 hours.
Solar Eclipse Hotspots
The sad news is, Florida won’t be in the pathway of the moon this year. So those of us with no will or ability to travel that morning or the day before will be stuck with seeing a partial eclipse. It’ll happen between Key West, Florida and Jacksonville, Florida – the closer north you go, the better the show. If trying to stay as close to home as possible, drive along the coast to South Carolina and you’re bound to see the show.
Otherwise, here’s where to go depending on where you are in America, in chronological order.
10:19 am PDT – Madras, Oregon – Two hours from Portland
11:33 am MDT – Snake River Valley, Idaho – Eastern farmland
11:42 am MDT – Casper, Wyoming – The Astronomical League is holding Astrocon here the 20th
11:49 am MDT – Sandhills of Western Nebraska – Later at night you can also see the Milky Way, wow!
1:06 pm CDT – St. Joseph, Missouri – Best spot in America, Rosecrans Memorial Airport is throwing a party
1:20 pm CDT – Carbondale, Illinois – If you miss this eclipse, Carbondale will get another in 2024
1:24 pm CDT – Hopkinsville, Kentucky – Another great place for viewing with a hundred mile diameter
1:27 pm CDT – Nashville, Tennessee – The music capital of the state should have performance plans
2:35 pm EDT – Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Can you imagine hiking to the top to see this?
2:43 pm EDT – Columbia, South Carolina – The number one spot for people in the southeast
Each of those spots will get about two minutes of totality, with the Smoky Mountains just getting over one minute. You can learn more at thegreatamericaneclipse.com. Also, don’t remember to get special certified eclipse glasses. They’re the only way to look at the eclipse, partial or annular, until it hits totality.
So, who’s up for an eight hour road trip to South Carolina? Just remember to help pay for gas.