Western Slope Skies - Getting Ready for the Solar Eclipse

Mar 10, 2017

Credit By Denys (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This year, on August 21st, there will be a total solar eclipse. So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that the event will be accessible to millions right here in the U.S!

Total solar eclipses are wonders of nature.  People describe them as awe-inspiring; beautiful; like nothing they have ever seen; an experience which cannot be conveyed adequately through words or photographs.  These are not just science geeks; these are lay-people who have been lucky enough to experience a total eclipse.

The path of the total eclipse averages 70 miles wide and crosses 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina.  The duration of the total eclipse runs from 1 minute, 58 seconds on the Oregon beach, to a maximum of 2 minutes, 40 seconds near Carbondale, IL.  

There are maps on the internet which tell you the duration depending on your location.  Being closer to the center line of the path provides longer durations.

Outside the path of the total, you will be able to see a partial eclipse. In west-central Colorado, the sun will be 85% obscured at maximum.  So isn’t that good enough?  Well, some feel that is like saying you went skiing, but never got off the lift.

Whether you decide to see the total, or you settle for the partial, it’s important to remember that you MUST use proper eye protection during any partial solar eclipse phase.  Not doing so risks eye damage or blindness.  Use safe filters for your eyes any equipment, or use projection through a pinhole.

You do not need to use filters during the total phase.  Just take it all in!  

If traveling to the path of totality make your plans early.  Hotels, campgrounds, Airbnbs and other accommodations are already filling up.  Many of the highways that run the path are only two-lane, but the arteries that lead into it, like I-25 and I-15 are coming from large metropolitan areas.  It would be sad to be sitting in a traffic jam instead of seeing the total eclipse.

Weather is always the biggest question mark in choosing an eclipse watching venue.  Historical data can help in making reservations, so if you can’t be mobile, try for dry locales to increase your chances for the best experience.

You really don’t want to miss this event!

Western Slope Skies is produced by members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.  This episode was written and recorded by Joyce Tanihara.
 

Links of interest:

Eclipse Path Through the U.S.
Interactive Google Map
NASA Eclipse Web Page
Eclipsophile.com Weather & Climate Page
NationalEclipse.com