I've been sitting on this post for a long time. One year from today, Monday August 21, 2017 comes the best chance most of us will have to see a total solar eclipse, one of my top bucket list items since I was a teenager.
screen capture shows the path of totality, with the centerline being the peak of the eclipse. The two highlight boxes show that the eclipse geometry favors the SW corner of Kentucky and SE Missouri, giving those places the longest duration of totality and greatest eclipse (" the instant when the axis of the Moon's shadow cone passes closest to Earth's center"), but if you go to this interactive web site, you can get numbers for anywhere on that path. Few people are fortunate enough to live on the path of totality of a total solar eclipse, but this one goes through fairly well-populated areas of the southeast, hitting Charleston, SC; Nashville, TN; SW St. Louis, MO; Columbia, MO; and Kansas City, MO. The path of totality is also within an easy drive of Atlanta and a ton of other cities.
The better question is where's the best place to see it? By that I mean, that combination of view to the horizons and weather, which is the most important of all. The Greatest Duration and Greatest Eclipse points are at 1821 and 1825 UTC, respectively, and that's 1:21 PM (MO) and 1:25 PM (KY), both CDT, the local times. If you're from that area, what's the weather like at that time of day in late August? Around here, there's probably an increased chance of clouds and showers compared to earlier in the day. I'd guess storms might be brewing that time of day there, too.
The path, however goes across the entire lower 48; the shadow of the moon enters the US near Depoe Bay, southwest of Salem Oregon, and proceeds easterly, leaving the mainland near Bulls Bay, SC, NE of Charleston. For example it crosses virtually over Jackson Wyoming at 1736 UTC, where it's 11:36 AM local time (UTC -6 for MDT). I would guess the weather would be better in Jackson Hole, than in SW Kentucky, but I don't know that. Note that even as far away as it is from the point of greatest duration (2 min 40.2 sec), the duration in Jackson Wyoming is 2 min 16.6 sec, not a bad compromise if the weather is likely to be much better. In general, the closer to the centerline on the map you get, the greater the duration, but you must be between the blue lines on the map to see totality. A viewer in Nashville, off the centerline, sees 1 min 53 seconds of totality instead of the 2 min 40 on the centerline. Within a few miles SW of Nashville, that goes to zero as the eclipse becomes partial.
If you have the freedom to move around to find the best weather based on last minute forecasts, plan to follow the centerline as much as you can, and go east/west as necessary.
EDIT 8/21 at 0200 UTC: Thanks to commenter Roy who pointed out SW Kentucky is also CDT, I revised the times to 1:21 and 1:25 CDT.
*IF* we've completed our move to Fort Collins, we'll head up to Wyoming to observe it.ReplyDelete
The eastern Wyoming "desert" is probably one of the best places to go. Gotta be a low chance of rain out there.Delete
It looks like the path crosses I-75 some distance North of Cheyenne.ReplyDelete
I'll research it a bit further and see what small towns off-ramps are in the area, and start a list of things to take.
I'm sure any lodging in the area is booked solid!
ooops...I meant I-25.ReplyDelete
The city of Douglas looks to be pretty close to the path, BUT the host the Wyoming State Fair in August.
That part of Kentucky is in the Central time zone.ReplyDelete
Thanks - didn't know they did that.Delete
Did a little digging and found that the almost total eclipse I remember seeing in Philadelphia was on July 20th 1963 at 5:49 PM.Delete
My father had us outside looking at pinhole projectors. I kind of remember this event and wish I had been old enough to realize how rare and wondrous an opportunity this was.
The first one I got to see was the one that Carly Simon referred to in "You're So Vain":Delete
then you flew your Lear Jet
up to Nova Scotia
to see the total eclipse of the sun
It was March 7 1970, and I was a geeky 10th grader with a telescope, projecting the image on the paper and the house for my folks and anyone else.
Looking at the maps now, it's shame I wasn't able to drive, because it was closer to where I lived (Miami) than this one gets. I just found this place, which has a little writeup on every solar eclipse visible from the US in the 20th century.
Don't feel too bad about not being able to drive in 1970. If I recall correctly it was cloudy where the path crossed the east coast (we set out northbound and gave up). I did get to see the July 13, 1991 eclipse in La Paz, Bahja California. Middle of the day and not a cloud anywhere. Magnificent. Some folks I knew went to Hawaii and were clouded out. I plan to go to S. Carolina for this one.ReplyDelete
Correction, It was July 11, 1991, not the 13th.Delete
Looks like it goes right over Chattanooga. Maybe time for a road trip.ReplyDelete