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When suddenly and without warning, there was this
August 31, 2014 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Great American Eclipse of 2017.

History of American total solar eclipses, from the 20th century, 19th century, even the 17th and 18th centuries.

NASA's solar eclipse page, 2011-2020

Statistics for Solar Eclipses: (2000 BCE to 3000 CE)

The last total solar eclipse to be seen from the United States mainland was in February, 1979.

Previously on MeFi: March 2006 Solar Eclipse Photos, Africa, Europe and Asia
posted by roomthreeseventeen (45 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
WITCHCRAFT!!
posted by Fizz at 8:09 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


"You will involuntarily scream, gasp, or perhaps cry at this astounding vision."

Hmm. We'll see.
posted by sfkiddo at 8:09 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


The 1979 eclipse was really frustrating. Portland was in the line of totality, but it was totally overcast that day and all we could see was the the clouds became dark and then light again. Bleh.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:11 AM on August 31


I remember (vaguely) the 1979 eclipse. Looking forward to the 2017 opportunity
posted by jazon at 8:11 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I'm almost a year younger than the '79 eclipse, so I'm looking forward to 2017, if I can convince DH to travel somewhere on that line. And then hope for a clear day.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:13 AM on August 31


There was an annular eclipse in 1993(?), which is not as dark, but was still very cool. I took a couple of viewing glasses to my son's 1st grade class. They got passed all around, and it was really fun. I also learned that 1st grade teachers may have a poor grasp of astronomy.
posted by theora55 at 8:15 AM on August 31


Illinois:

Only the southernmost section of Illinois enjoys totality, but this state has bragging rights for the longest duration of the total solar eclipse along the entire path if only by a tiny whisker over Kentucky.

HELL YEAH.

(this is not fake enthusiasm)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:15 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I'm sort of waiting for the 2024 one, when Buffalo looks to be in the path of totality. But it's in the spring and so almost guaranteed to be cloudy here.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:17 AM on August 31


And somewhere, Bonnie Tyler is counting down the days until the flood of royalty cheques start pouring in...
posted by splen at 8:20 AM on August 31 [14 favorites]


I remember pretty well the annular eclipse of May 30, 1984.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:33 AM on August 31


Only 4 hours to one of the longest durations, sounds like a plan.
posted by Mick at 8:41 AM on August 31


I remember the eclipse in '93. The strangest thing was realizing that the leaves are constantly acting as pinhole cameras, so during an eclipse you get this.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:47 AM on August 31 [34 favorites]


I had a (mild) argument with my husband the other day because I was sure I remembered a total eclipse, and he was sure I couldn't have. Since I was a 14-month-old in Missouri in 1979, he is correct. (I guess it was a partial that I remember.) So it sounds like we'll be discussing whether to take a trip up the coast in 2017. Guess I'll go start writing my AskMefi about how crazy eclipse tourism is and what to expect...
posted by wintersweet at 9:03 AM on August 31


I was in Cote d'Ivoire for the solar eclipse last year, and only found out that it was happening through a bizarre combination of coincidences. It was one of the other researchers' birthday, so we left the forest to go to the boomtown of Tai (population: around 7,000) to get some fried chicken and cold beer (!!) and also watch a football match between the villages of Paulet-oula and Gouliyako. Because there is cellphone service in Tai, someone was able to pull up facebook on his smart phone, and scrolled through his facebook feed where someone happened to have posted that there was an eclipse on November 3rd. Then I did some googling around and figured out that the eclipse would be visible in West Africa, specifically Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Ghana, and that the eclipse was supposed to happen in 15 minutes. We'd had literally no idea that this was happening, and then all of a sudden the whole town was out in the streets shading their eyes and looking up. It was incredibly cool.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:10 AM on August 31 [7 favorites]


Weather Forecast for Aug 21, 2017:

Thunderstorms, Heavy Clouds.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:16 AM on August 31 [5 favorites]


This calls for a chain of Mefi meetups, all across the nation.
posted by jcreigh at 9:22 AM on August 31 [6 favorites]


I get an error when I click on that "Where to go link". That would be a real bummer to spend several hundred dollars on travel and then you get there and the damn day is overcast.
posted by bukvich at 9:25 AM on August 31


It looks like Grand Island, Nebraska is smack in the middle at 1:00 PM daylight time. They are (barely) west of the 98th meridian which is a better demarcation of the wet side / dry side of the continent and their average August rainfall is three inches all month. If I have to spend several hundred dollars to get to a site that is where I'm going.
posted by bukvich at 9:41 AM on August 31


I was going to take my Lear Jet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun but it appears the view from up there will be just as bad where I am.
posted by birdherder at 9:42 AM on August 31 [7 favorites]


I was in Normandy to see the total eclipse in 1999, but it was a very cloudy day. With no sun visible, the effect was just like a dimmer switch going down and up again. I think people in Cornwall got a better view of it, though.
posted by w0mbat at 10:04 AM on August 31


@birdherder -- I bet you think this post is about you, don't you? Don't you?
posted by briank at 10:11 AM on August 31 [6 favorites]


I was going to take my Lear Jet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun but it appears the view from up there will be just as bad where I am.

Mefi's own Warren Beatty, everyone!
posted by leotrotsky at 10:12 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Good excuse to visit my uncle in Corvallis.
posted by calamari kid at 10:39 AM on August 31


Charleston, SC is going to be one big party. Thankfully I have friends on Sullivan's island so I'll have a front row seat.
posted by photoslob at 10:53 AM on August 31


> That would be a real bummer to spend several hundred dollars on travel and then you get there and the damn day is overcast.

Guillaume Le Gentil laughs at your bummer:
He was part of the international collaborative project ... to measure the distance to the Sun, by observing the transit of Venus at different points on the earth (in 1761 and 1769)
I was going to try to excerpt a few key incidents, but just go read the whole story. It involves sailing half way 'round the world, through war time conditions and bad weather, and having his observations spoiled by clouds and his intended observation site being occupied by the British. When he got home "his wife had remarried, and all his relatives had 'enthusiastically plundered his estate'".
posted by benito.strauss at 11:20 AM on August 31 [9 favorites]


Ooh, a chance to link to one of my favorite essays, Annie Dillard's Total Eclipse.
posted by aka burlap at 11:23 AM on August 31 [5 favorites]


how crazy eclipse tourism is

Depressing answer: not very.

My town is about a 4 hour drive from the line of totality for the 2012 annular eclipse. If you were from my town and wanted to see it, there's really only one place you might reasonably have gone to do so.

I went there. I saw nobody else watching it there, few cars on the road with my state's plates, and literally zero traffic on the way back home.

You'll be fine.
posted by Hatashran at 11:29 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


IThe strangest thing was realizing that the leaves are constantly acting as pinhole cameras, so during an eclipse you get this.

I remember that, too. I was teaching high school at the time and will never forget all the crescent- and half-moon shadows everywhere outside under the trees. It was a great, safe way to watch the progress of the eclipse over time. The kids loved it.
posted by mediareport at 11:33 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


Walter Cronkite's way of doing the news is much missed these days.
posted by caddis at 11:39 AM on August 31


"Only the southernmost section of Illinois enjoys totality, but this state has bragging rights for the longest duration of the total solar eclipse along the entire path if only by a tiny whisker over Kentucky."

So, it turns out that the intersection of these two upcoming and very rare (lower 48 US) total solar eclipses, just seven years apart at 2017 and 2024, is in southern Illinois, just southwest of Carbondale. But not only that, as you can see from the map, only ten miles southeast of that point is that point of 2017's longest duration.

Kansas City, St. Louis, and Nashville are the biggest cities within the 2017 total eclipse. Where I'm living today in KC is within the path -- the server calculates a 1 minute, 36.5 second length.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:07 PM on August 31


I don't think this song is about me, no.
posted by yoga at 1:10 PM on August 31


For the 1993 eclipse, my grade-school teachers put together a 2-day lesson about how and why eclipses happen. We all put together an assortment of pinhole lenses ranging from two separately held sheets of construction paper to a few full on over-the-head boxes to wear. I was so stoked. They kept reminding us that looking directly at the eclipse was very dangerous and we needed to take every precaution, including sending us outside in small chaperoned groups. The first kid outside in the first group had Cystic Fibrosis, and gave very few fucks about much of anything including rules and safety, so he almost immediately turned around and looked directly at the sun.
Nobody else got to go outside during the eclipse. I was pissed.
posted by onehalfjunco at 1:11 PM on August 31


A peculiar set of events caused me to fly to China in 2009 to see the longest solar eclipse on either side of a hundred years or so. Summer means it's cloudy everywhere in China. We sort of threw darts at a map and decided on Moxi, at the base of Gongga Shan in Western Sichuan province. It was socked in that morning (the iconic mist-shrouded mountains of western China being in fact shrouded in mist) but we managed to climb just out of it at the top of the gondola. We had around 5 minutes of totality. It was really dark.

As an aside, the experience of watching my first eclipse was not unlike the first time I dropped acid:

"I think it's getting dark now." ("I think I'm feeling something...")
"It's DEFINITELY getting dark now." (...)
"No, wait, it wasn't getting dark before but NOW it's totally getting dark." (...)
"HOLY SHIT IT'S MIDNIGHT AT NINE AM" ("OH MY GOD I SEE FOREVER")
posted by deadbilly at 1:38 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I have been looking forward to this since I read about it in the Mini Page in 7th grade.
posted by 4ster at 3:15 PM on August 31


This site is dedicated to the eclipse, and seems to be an informed, non-commercialized effort. So far.

While the 2017 totality will unfortunately be much shorter than 1979's, it's well worth traveling to a site where thousands will be viewing with you. Even if the weather doesn't cooperate, the crowd is fun, and you'll not forget the sound of the audience reacting to the greatest show on Earth.
posted by Twang at 3:41 PM on August 31


how crazy eclipse tourism is

Depressing answer: not very.


I dunno, I went out to Redding for an eclipse viewing a few years ago and they had an event set up for the public and there were tons of people at it. Perhaps it helps if there's an official location to view things at and publicity and the like?
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:53 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, wah, I have the impression I'd have to leave the state to see it and of course it's on a weekday. Fuck.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:54 PM on August 31


Tempted to go post a three-years-in-advance meetup to the PDX page. Anyone else in?
posted by spitefulcrow at 4:26 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Okay, getting ready for this as of right now. My dad has 6 acres just north of McMinnville Oregon, & I'm buying plane tickets as soon as I can afford them for that week. I've never seen one, & this my be my only chance.

Wondering if it'll be better on the beach, or inland a ways.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:33 PM on August 31


The partial one in 1993 (98% or so, IIRC?) was mind blowing. I'm stoked for this one.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 5:41 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Hotels in Newport, OR are already booked up.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:10 PM on August 31


Only the southernmost section of Illinois enjoys totality,

For a moment I thought that this would mean a good bit of prime viewing area (Cave-In-Rock, Illinois) would be seized upon by the Gathering Of The Juggalos, and all end in chaos and disaster when thousands of heavily intoxicated Juggalos go blind by staring at the sun, and then the eclipse itself happens, causing those who were not blinded to think they were blinded, making the chaos even worse.

Then I remembered that they moved after some senator introduced a law that would enforce the Gathering to be subject to all federal and state laws, so they ended up moving it to Ohio. Disaster averted, I suppose.
posted by chambers at 7:00 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


I've got my calendar bookmarked 9 months in advance of the date to make a camp site reservation in central Oregon where it is more likely to be sunny for the Eclipse.
posted by vespabelle at 7:40 PM on August 31


That 2024 eclipse has a pretty nice path for Americans, with Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Buffalo all well within the path of totality.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:32 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


onehalfjunco: "Nobody else got to go outside during the eclipse. I was pissed."

This is pretty much the real life version of Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day."
posted by Chrysostom at 1:46 PM on September 2


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