The path through the United States
...and what you'll see if you're in it!
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There will be several eclipses that pass over the US in the 21st century. This is only the first, but it has been a long time coming! If you miss this one, you will only need to wait seven years for another, it's true - but why wait?! And besides, the eclipse in 2024 will also be visible from Mexico and Canada (in fact, Mexico is really a better place to watch that one from!). So come on out for this one, and enjoy what will truly be considered "America's Eclipse!"
People from all over the world begin to converge on the United States. Except for people returning home, visiting family, or conducting business at what happens to be just exactly the right time in history, these will be people who make it a point to travel to wherever the moon's shadow is going to touch the earth, and position themselves in a spot carefully chosen - sometimes years in advance - to ensure they see the sight.
These people will make contingency travel plans in case of last-minute clouds. These people will fill hotel rooms, sometimes inadvertently displacing locals from their homes as space gets harder to come by. These people will travel through miles of desert or forest or frozen wasteland, braving the harshest of conditions...for a short glimpse at the eclipsed sun.
These people are coming to America, because for the first time in 26 years, a total solar eclipse will occur in our great country, and we will play host to the world's eclipse-chasers. For those of us who already live here, but have never seen an eclipse, this is the opportunity of a lifetime - to see the most beautiful thing on the planet, and maybe not even have to get on an airplane to get to it!
Friday, August 18, 2017
Almost everyone who plans to see the eclipse will be in position. Foreign visitors will be be wrapping up their sightseeing tours of our country, and getting to their selected viewing areas early to ensure that no travel glitches have an opportunity to deprive them of their true goal. Cities along the path who have decided to create official eclipse viewing areas will have their focus set to logistics, ensuring the comfort, enjoyment and safety of their guests. People who have converged on those sites to view the eclipse will begin the countdown to eclipse day, as final preparations are made to ensure that photography equipment, filters, chairs, tables, telescopes, TV monitors, webcast equipment, hats and sunscreen are all at the ready for the big day!
Last-minute weather forecasts are checked, and anyone with the slightest fear of clouds on eclipse day will invoke their travel contingencies. Weather monitoring will proceed around the clock, with live updates issued hourly so as to best prepare eclipse-chasers who will need to move at a moment's notice. Nothing will stand in the way of seeing the eclipse!
The party begins....
Please note that all of the following statements about viewing the eclipse are made with two assumptions: (1) "weather permitting", and (2) you MUST use special eye protection to look at the sun whenever it is not totally eclipsed! Please see this page for more on the important subject of eye safety.
And that land will be United States soil. On the beach in
Oregon, at a rocky spot of ground just north of Newport that
sticks its nose out into the Pacific, the shadow first touches
land at 17:15:50.6UT (at about 10:15 in the morning), and this
lucky piece of earth experiences a full minute and fifty seconds
The actual centerline of the eclipse path hits solid ground a full six seconds later, and plunges Lincoln Beach and Depoe Bay into darkness for 1m58s!
It takes only about two minutes for the shadow to race eastward toward its first date with a large population of folks who will be breathlessly awaiting its arrival. Dallas, Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon, Philomath, McMinnville, Woodburn, and yes, Salem itself, experience various lengths of totality (based on their varying distances from the centerline); on the steps of the State Capitol in Salem (the first of five state capitals the shadow will visit), lucky viewers will be treated to 1m54.5s of shadow at just after 10:17am. Great time for a coffee break!
The great city of Portland is NOT in the path of totality! If you're there, or in Eugene, you will not get the full meal deal! Get south, and get yourself into the shadow! That's right: IF YOU STAY IN PORTLAND, the eclipse will never be total for you! You will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse!
The eclipse then leaves our most western friends, and travels through the forests of central Oregon, hitting the mountains at Madras and Warm Springs at about 10:19. Mitchell and Prairie City are next, and the shadow leaves Oregon just north of Ontario. (Actually, Ontario gets 1m23s of totality at 11:25am MDT, but folks there would be better served to head north to the rest area north of Huntington on I-84, or into Idaho on US 95 between Midvale and Weiser, for better than 30 seconds more totality! Soak them up; those seconds in the shadow are precious!!!)
On to Idaho, where Stanley and Mackay are the first recipients of lots of shadow. Idaho Falls is south of the centerline, so it only basks in the umbra for 1m49s at 11:33am. Rexburg does much better, getting 2m17s at the same time.
The highest point in Idaho - Borah Peak - is in totality, and that might not be a bad place to be for the more adventurous types!
But that's it for Idaho - Boise and Pocatello are NOT in the path of totality! Do not stay home, and think you're getting a good show, because you're not! Get north, and get into the shadow! IN BOISE OR POCATELLO, the eclipse will never be total for you! You will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse!
The first of the two states where no populated areas see the
shadow. We're not kidding here - there are no roads, no towns, no
named areas of any kind that will see totality. Only a tiny chip
of a tiny fraction of a tiny part of the tiniest southwestern tip
of the beard of Montana will see totality. No, not Monida, Lima,
or Dell - we're talking much further southwest than that! Less than
eight square miles of this monster state lie in the path.
Only trees - and critters - will see this eclipse from here.
One of the saddest things about this eclipse is that our first
National Park lies just outside the edge of totality! Without a
question, this wonderful, exhilarating landscape would have
provided the perfect spot for viewing nature's most awesome
spectacle, if only the moon had been positioned a little
differently. However, Yellowstone's loss is Grand Teton's gain;
the boundary separating those two great parks is just about
coincident with the Northern limit of the path! This makes the
southern part of Grand Teton National Park one of the best
places in the entire country to position yourself to view this
event! On the centerline, the Park will experience 2m20s of
totality at about 11:35am. Weather permitting, for folks who want
to experience nature while being overwhelmed by nature,
this may just be "The Place To Be"....
Moving onward, the shadow blesses Pavillion (at 11:38), and Shoshoni and Riverton (at 11:39) with 2m 23s of the great show, before landing squarely on the city of Casper. The centerline passes right over the intersection of highway 220 and S. Poplar Street at 11:42:34am, and gives viewers there 2m26s of totality!
Douglas, Glendo, Lusk and Torrington round out the list of larger towns that experience totality. Note that if you're in Wheatland, you're right on the southern edge of the path. You need to get north, to get as much totality as you can!
The eclipse path really shines in this great midwestern state, cutting across endless miles of prairie, lots of good-sized cities, and one more state capital! Take a long lunch hour, and see an eclipse! Alliance (2m30s at 11:49am) and Scottsbluff (1m43s at 11:48am) are the first larger cities to see the shadow, and North Platte (1m40s at 12:54pm CDT) hugs the southern edge. Folks there should hop up US83 to Stapleton, to get more than two and a half minutes!
Moving east, the shadow engulfs Hastings at 12:58pm (for 2m13s of totality), but Grand Island (22 more seconds!) is an even better place to be!
Omaha is not in the path! Get down to Lincoln, or better yet, farther south toward Beatrice (2m35s at 1:02pm), for a better show! THAT'S RIGHT - IN OMAHA, the eclipse will never be total for you! You will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse!
And speaking of Lincoln, this second capital city in the path lies near its northern edge, so totality is shorter there - only 1m 25.5s (at 1:02pm) on the grounds of the beautiful State Capitol. The 50-yard-line at Husker stadium gets five seconds less time in the shadow, so you can see how important it is to get as far south as you can!
To give you an even better idea of how important your location is when you're this near the edge, you need look no further than the airport at Lincoln: Planes waiting to take off on the departure end of runway 17 (at the north end of the runway) will get only 1m7s of totality, while those at the south end of the runway (if traffic is departing on 35 that day) will get 18s more!!! Don't laugh - when you see the beauty of the eclipse, you will wish like anything that you had eighteen more seconds to see this most glorious sight!
The shadow leaves the capital, and the centerline then passes over Falls City at 1:04pm. The path's great trek through the Cornhusker State, after having traveled its entire length in only eight minutes(!), will be over at 1:07:50pm.
The path travels through the very far NE corner of the Sunflower
State, and the centerline passes right over Troy at 1:05:55pm.
Folks there will enjoy 2m38s of totality! Atchison (2m16s at
1:06pm), Hiawatha (2m31s at 1:05pm) and Seneca (2m14s at 1:04pm)
are other cities from which to enjoy this magnificent show!
Yes, Levenworth is in the path as well, but you'll only see 1m35s there, so I'd head north to St. Joseph MO! (That is, if you can. We realize that certain residents of Leavenworth may be somewhat limited in their travel opportunities...)
Topeka is NOT in totality! THAT'S RIGHT - IF YOU STAY IN TOPEKA, the eclipse will never be total for you! You will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse! Head north and east to get into the path!
We list Iowa here because only about three square miles (no, we didn't measure it) of the far southwestern tip of the state lies in the path. Not much totality here - Hamburg doesn't get any, and neither does any of I-29 in the state of IA. We wouldn't go here to see it unless you live here, and can't move south and west.
NOTE: Just because Iowa is listed here doesn't mean that if you're in Iowa, you should stay here to see the eclipse! Only maybe ten people live in the small chip of the state that sees the shadow! Please don't think that if you live in Iowa, you'll see the total eclipse!
The eclipse's trek through this great state is one of the more
interesing, because more people will see the eclipse here by
default, than anywhere else along the path. That's because Kansas City and St. Louis are partially in the path of
totality! That's right, even though these cities are both split in
half by the path, and it would be much better for people to get
out of town to get a longer time in the shadow, the truth of the
matter is that many people will be at home or at work, and lots of
them will see the eclipse from their homes and offices in these
two great cities.
Because KC and STL are so big, and because they are split by the path, we can't give more than a passing reference to actual totality durations. Suffice it to say that you will only see a brief totality there, so if you can, get farther into the path! People in KC need to head north, and in STL, head south. Out of town, if you can, in both cases! But certainly, please try to get to the southern edge of STL, or the northern edge of KC, and see an unbelievable sight.
Recommendations for KCers: Any of the parks on the north side, like Hodge Park, would be good. Or better yet, any of the beautiful parks around Smithville Reservoir, or maybe even on a boat! Take a long weekend, and see an eclipse!
For St. Louis folks, just head south and west as far as you can. Within 270, you can head to Jefferson Barracks or Clydesdale parks; if you can get out a little farther, then Lone Elk, Castlewood, or Greensfelder parks would be good. As close as you can get to St. Clair (SW) or Festus (S) will be all the better for the amount of time you get to see the eclipse.
St. Joseph gets a whopping 2m38s of totality at 1:06:26pm! At 1:08, the shadow's southern edge will hit Kansas City, but as we've said, folks there should have hightailed themselves to Carrollton (2m37s at 1:09pm), Marshall (2m39s at 1:10pm), or Lathrop (2m30s at 1:07:45pm) for more of the show. Anyone staying behind will get a beautiful sight of Baily's Beads along the bottom of the sun's eclipsed disk. This in itself will be awe-inspiring, and will somewhat compensate for the lack of duration of totality.
Columbia gets 2m36s at 1:12pm, and the path hits its third State Capitol, on the banks of the mighty Missouri River, at 1:14:19pm. Legislators returning from lunch will see a 2m29s total eclipse on the steps of the Capitol building in Jefferson City.
Continuing on through the Show-Me State, the path crosses St. Clair at 1:15:40pm (2m40s of totality). The southern part of St. Louis lies in the path, but here is one of the greatest challenges we face in getting as many people as possible to view this total eclipse: Downtown St. Louis, the Arch, Busch stadium, and Lambert airport, are NOT in the path! People here need to get south or southwest in order to see totality, and it will fall to the good people of Hillsboro (2m39s at 1:16:40pm), DeSoto (2m40s at 1:16:46pm), Union (2m37s at 1:15:33pm), St. Clair (2m40s at 1:15:40pm) and Festus (2m37s at 1:17pm), to host them! These lucky towns get lots of time in the shadow!
If you stay in those very popular central and northern parts of St. Louis that we listed above, you will not see totality. What you see (through your solar viewers, of course!) may look cool to you, but trust me - it will not compare to what people only a few miles south of you will experience! Head south, and see totality!
Farmington (2m12s at 1:17:40pm) lies farther south, and Cape Girardeau only gets 1m38s of totality, as it lies along the southern edge of the path. This occurs at 1:20:25pm.
Chicago is not in the path - not even close! IF YOU ARE IN CHICAGO, the eclipse will never be total for you! You will need to use
eye protection for the entire eclipse! The
far southern tip of the state is the only part that sees totality,
but it gets a lot! Murphysboro (2m40s at 1:19:30pm), Carbondale
(2m38s at 1:20pm) and Marion (2m28s at 1:20:40pm) are prime
viewing locations, but those are really the only places to
consider. Cairo, Springfield, Effingham and Mt. Vernon
are outside the path - no totality here!
And for those of you in Evansville, IN - so sorry, but totality just barely passes you by. (You'll get your turn at totality in 2024!) But IN EVANSVILLE, you will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse!
Oh, and by the way, Illinois is also the state that has the most
area of the overlap of the
paths of totality for Eclipse 2017 and Eclipse 2024!
Illinois is also home to the point of greatest duration for this eclipse! According to the US Naval Observatory's page, there is a point in the Shawnee Nat'l. Forest (just south of Carbondale) that will get 2m44s of totality! Definitely a good excuse to become an SIU fan for a day! (Go Salukis!)
Kentucky also boasts wonderful viewing areas, with totality at
Paducah (1:22pm) lasting 2m20s of totality. The Land Between the
Lakes is a wonderful spot to view the eclipse from, and the
farther north you are here, the better! Eddyville gets 2m39s at
1:23pm. After that, Hopkinsville lies right on the centerline, and
enjoys 2m40s of totality at 1:24:41pm. This, together with
that the folks at Hopkinsville Community College are making, makes
it a great place to consider watching the eclipse from.
Franklin (2m26s at 1:26:48pm) and Russellville (2m29s at 1:26pm) are other good spots from which to see the shadow. Bowling Green lies in the path, but it is on the northern edge, and folks here are advised to head to Hopkinsville, or down I-65 into Tennessee.
Mammoth Cave and Murray are not in the path, and neither are Louisville and Lexington. In these locations, the eclipse will never be total for you, and you will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse! This show belongs to the far southwestern part of the Commonwealth, and you are urged to get there and be a part of it all!
Ah, Nashville. Home to the Grand Ol' Opry, and
mecca for country crooners worldwide. But on this day, the great
capital of Tennessee has a new claim to fame - a total eclipse!
That's right - after blocking out the sun for the fine citizens of
Clarksville (2m17s at 1:25pm - and don't forget about our
soldiers at Fort Campbell!), Springfield (2m36s at 1:26pm),
Portland (2m37s at 1:27), and Westmoreland (2m28 at 1:27), the
shadow pays a visit to the crown jewel of Country! It could be
better - Nashville lies close to the southern edge of the path, so
it doesn't get as much totality as we'd like, but all the city
limits, and most of the suburbs, will bask in the shadow!
Residents of Franklin and Kingston Springs will be left out of
totality, and Brentwood lies just inside the path, so people there
should head northeast. But, on the grounds of the State Capitol,
people will see 1m54s of totality at 1:27pm - a very respectable
eclipse! And, heading northeast to the grounds of the Grand Ol'
Opry, folks along beautiful Briley Parkway will see 2m13s (also at
1:27)!! If you're in Lebanon, you can stay put, because you'll
enjoy 2m24s of totality a minute later!
The rest areas on I-40, just west of the exit at Buffalo Valley, are right on the centerline, by the way!
Murfreesboro is yet another of those nice, big towns that lie right on the edge of the path. Sparta and Baxter lie right on the centerline, so you might want to head out there to see the show!
Crossville (2m31s at 1:31pm) is the last larger town the path hits within the Central Time Zone, and as the shadow hops the mighty Tennessee River, residents of Dayton will experience 2m21s at about the same time (except that there, it'll be 2:31pm!).
Residents of Cleveland, beware! Your town is right on the southern edge of the path, and you should consider hopping north to Athens or Sweetwater. Residents of Chattanooga, ditto, except that if you stay put, there'll be no show at all for you! Got that? Chattanooga is not in the path, and neither is Knoxville! Well, the very far southern suburbs of Knoxville are, but you won't get much totality, and who wants that? I-75 south is your best friend - take advantage of it! Here is a little more detailed map of Knoxville. Everyone at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville should hold class a few miles farther south, and enjoy the eclipse!
IF YOU ARE IN MEMPHIS, the eclipse will never be total for you! You will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse!
We'll talk about Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park down in the section on North Carolina, but for now, suffice it to say that Clingman's Dome would be a great place to see totality from!
We know, we know, the path hits North Carolina next, but we felt
like talking about Georgia first. Mainly, we wanted to say that Atlanta is not in the path of totality,
and this is a huge shame. So many people will be at work, when
they should have taken a long weekend, gotten themselves up north,
and into the path! I-85 seems to be the best route here, to get
people up into South Carolina where they can see the show. But
there are lots of other options: I-75 way north, or US19 or US23
up into TN or NC, will get you there. Whatever you folks in
Hot'Lanta do with yourselves on the big day, though, make the
eclipse a part of it!
IF YOU STAY IN ATLANTA, the eclipse will never be total for you! You will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse!
So, where to see the eclipse from the Peach State? Well, the centerline of the path just barely ticks the northeastern corner of the state, and runs about 12 miles between the borders of TN and SC. Clayton (2m34s at 2:35:45pm) is a nice county seat close to the centerline, but Toccoa (only 2m2s of totality) is a little bigger town. Don't think you're gonna see it from Athens, though, or Gainesville, or Augusta - this isn't your eclipse, guys! If you insist on staying within Georgia to see the eclipse, I'd suggest Black Rock Mountain State Park! You'll see about 2m36s of totality there.
Again, here is a state that will have only a fraction of its area
hit by the shadow - but what an area! The Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, or at least the western part of it, lies in
the path of totality! If you can't get to the Tetons, here is
perhaps just as wonderful a spot to watch the eclipse from! But
you have to be careful here - the whole park is not in totality,
and the park is so big, that it really depends on where you are as
to how much time you'll get in the shadow! We already talked about
Knoxville not getting totality - well, Gatlinburg is outside the
path completely! In fact, if you're east of that big north-south
road that cuts the park in two (is it 441 or 71?), then you won't
see any totality at all. Get as far west as you can, out to the
mountains in the western part of the park. On the southern edge,
Waynesville is a no-no - get farther west to Bryson City or even
farther west to Santeetlah Lake. You get the idea.
If National Parks and eclipse-watching don't go together for you, then you can also see totality in Murphy (2m26s at 2:34pm) or Franklin (2m30s at 2:35). Other than that, all we can say is that Charlotte is not in the path! Get into SC, down to Greenville or Columbia!
Oh yes, Asheville is also not in the path!
So IF YOU ARE IN CHARLOTTE OR ASHEVILLE, the eclipse will never be total for you! You will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse!
All good things must come to an end, and at 2:36:02pm, the shadow
of the great 2017 total eclipse first touches the final state in
its path. South Carolina also brings us the fifth state capitol to
be immersed in shadow, and several large cities will be able to
play host to eclipse-chasers from all over. Greenville is a very
large city, and it is fully in shadow by 2:38pm. Its sister city
of Spartanburg, however, is split by the path - you'll want to
head west, and enjoy Greenville's 2m14s of totality.
Here is a map of the Greenville-Spartanburg area, to show you what's going on here.
Greenwood (2m28s at 2:39) is next on the list of bigger cities to see totality, and then Columbia is treated about two minutes later. The Capitol Building gets just a hair under 2m30s, and would be a great place for workers to take an afternoon shadow-break!
Sumter lies in the path, as do big, beautiful lakes Marion and Moutrie - right on the centerline!! Get out on the boat and soak it in!
The last large city to see the 2017 eclipse will be Charleston. It lies on the southern edge of the path, but because folks in Mt. Pleasant will get over two minutes of totality, Charlestonites should head northeast!
The centerline then cuts across US17, just south of the last city to see the shadow - McClellanville, SC. From there, the shadow will take its leave of the last piece of American soil at 2:49:07.4pm. Quite appropriately, the spot is a long, isolated beach on a barrier island at the tip of a Wildlife Preserve - Cape Romain, just east of McClellanville.
Amazing, isn't it? The swath of the shadow will touch the United States for only 1h 33m 16.8s - less than the length of a short movie! But in that time, many, many people in our country will have had their perceptions, and their lives, changed forever. It's that kind of a sight. Please plan to be there, in the path, together with a few hundred thousand other converts! You'll be joining many thousands of your fellow citizens in asking "When's the next one?"!
And that's it. From there, the shadow continues on, out over the Atlantic Ocean, not to touch any more land before deftly lifting off the earth's surface near Africa about 75 min after it left the US. The shadow, that excited so many people in our great country, will continue out over open water for another hour and a quarter, travelling farther over the great expanse of blue than it did over our land. It will impress no more people in this part of its journey, but it will have left in its wake a new generation of eclipse-addicts, and a bevy of newly-fixed veteran junkies -- all of whom will be hugging each other, replaying the spectacular movie of totality in their minds, and promising themselves and each other to be present for the next one -- no matter where, no matter when.
(And just for the record, "the next one" will be on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. You can see it on land at sunset, from small spots in either Chile or Argentina. But for me, that'll be my daughter's twenty-first birthday, and she's got dibs on me -- I promised her a South Pacific cruise to totality when she was six!)
*For a discussion of UT, see this site. The quick and dirty of it is that whenever you see
"UT", take the time you see, and:
subtract 4 hours if you're in the Eastern Time Zone
subtract 5 hours if you're in the Central Time Zone
subtract 6 hours if you're in the Mountain Time Zone
subtract 7 hours if you're in the Pacific Time Zone
(assuming Daylight Saving Time)