Total Solar Eclipse

Post ImageIn case you haven’t noticed, it’s been a long time since the continental U.S. has seen a total solar eclipse: February 26, 1979 to be exact. And even then, the greatest point of totality was only visible from Canada. That’s a fairly long dearth, considering the size of this country and how long I’ve been jumping up and down in place trying to alter the earth’s orbit to make one show up sooner.

Well, the long wait (and all that jumping) is about to pay off. Assuming the world doesn’t end in December 2012, the US is going to get its first total solar eclipse in nearly forty years in 2017, a mere SEVEN years away. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty worked up about this. Being an amateur astronomy buff and sky-gazer essentially my entire life, this is the Big Show. Peering up into the sky to see cool stuff just doesn’t get any better than this. And since I’ve never really had the means to travel to Turkey or Australia or Detroit to see one before, I’m definitely going to do everything I can to take advantage of this.

Of course, knowing my luck, I’ll drive 800 miles to see it and it’ll be cloudy. Or, I’ll accidentally get locked in a porta-potty. Or perhaps the world will end in December 2012.

Fortunately, if I miss it due to one of the first two reasons, I’ll have another shot at seeing one after that. “But Charlie, won’t you have to wait another forty years for that second chance?” I’m glad you asked, concerned reader. Because I’m happy to say that I will only have to wait SEVEN years to see another one. Further, if you happen to live just south of Carbondale, IL, you’ll get to see two total solar eclipses, just seven years apart, without having to leave the parking lot of your local Dairy Queen.

Even better, if I’m still in Austin in fourteen years, the path of totality in 2024 will cut straight through my flippin’ backyard. I’m so excited I could pee (but I will avoid getting locked in the bathroom at all costs).

So will you be able to see it? Check out the map below. The downward sloping path is 2017. The upward path is 2024. The closer you are to GE (“greatest extent”) the longer it will last. And remember, you have to be as close as possible to the blue lines.

See you then!

Paths of 2017 and 2024 total solar eclipses

9 Responses to “Total Solar Eclipse”

tuscanystone said
April 29, 2010 at 3:27 am

I saw one in the UK a few years back. Very, very strange indeed. Eerie! You feel the world is gonna end there and then!! All the birds stop flying and singing and everything is silent……Oooooo!

And you’re not allowed to look directly at it! You have to put a pin hole in a paper and hold it against another paper and you can see it eclipsing on the paper.

Fascinating!! Certainly won’t forget it. I’m excited for you πŸ™‚

Tusc πŸ™‚

    Charlie said
    April 29, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Well, you can look at the eclipse during totality. As long as no portion of the sun’s disk is visible, and just the corona, by all means look!

    The “don’t look at the sun during an eclipse” is just another way of saying, “don’t ever look at the sun, period.” The only reason “during an eclipse” is added is typically because that’s the only time it crosses our minds to try it.

    But as long as it’s a total eclipse (with the emphasis on total) it’s okay.

    Did you perhaps see an annular eclipse? That would still have beads of the sun’s surface peaking around the moon, and would fall into the “no lookie” rule.

      Charlie said
      April 29, 2010 at 7:53 am

      Did some research: not total. Here’s the list of solar eclipses seen in the UK over the last 10 years:

      # 31 May 2003

      * An annular solar eclipse at sunrise was visible in the far north-west of Scotland.

      # 29 March 2006

      * A partial solar eclipse was visible across the UK. South-eastern England saw the greatest magnitude at around 25%, northern Scotland the least at around 15%. The eclipse was total in Libya and Turkey.

      # 1 August 2008

      * A small partial eclipse over the whole of the UK as a total eclipse crosses central Russia east of the Urals. 40% in the north of Scotland falling to less than 20% in the south-west of England.

      So yes: those all count in the don’t-look category. I’m definitely looking in 2017 and 2024! It’s a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity. πŸ™‚

        tuscanystone said
        April 29, 2010 at 10:35 am

        Gosh, I’m not sure if it was total or partial…I didnt look!!!! lol

        It was a huge thing here, lots of media coverage, so it may well have been over 10 years ago Charlie, you know how the years fly? Definitely within 15 years tho, as I was living where I am now and I’ve only been here for 15 years πŸ™‚

        You could buy special glasses too! So get yourself one of those?

        If you look in 2017, you may not be able to SEE by 2024!!!! lol It’s supposed to blind you, apparently!

        All the best

        Tusc 8)

          tuscanystone said
          April 29, 2010 at 10:54 am

          Hey Charlie

          It was 11 August 1999!!! (Jeez, really?) And it was total!!

          Totally amazing too!! Make sure you dont miss it!! πŸ˜‰

          Tusc πŸ™‚

          Charlie said
          April 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

          No special glasses needed. During totality you can AND SHOULD look directly at it, as it’s been described as the most spectacular sky event you’ll ever see. Many people even use binoculars to get a better view: seeing the amazing detail around the edges of the surface of the moon, and the shining corona itself. Just make sure you know beforehand how long totality will last for your position on earth, and look away before the moon passes. Because then it’s just normal sunlight again and, as mentioned, don’t look at the sun. Ever. (That’s not a special eclipse-only rule. πŸ™‚ )

TexasDeb said
April 29, 2010 at 7:49 am

You know it occurs to me that one of the best ways to watch a solar eclipse would be with a really large bowl of Chex Mix available. Ditto for the “oops world IS ending” December 2012 parties.

And if great minds work alike (and when do they not?) that means a HUGE run on the required cereals in 2014 so I probably better stock up in advance. But then I always have been one to plan ahead….

See you in your back yard (I’ll be the one who brings her own large bowl of party mix) in a couple of years Charlie!

Pubsgal said
April 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Love, love, love astronomy stuff, and so does my husband. We were delighted that Comet Hale-Bopp came around the year we got married. (Hyakutake the year before that was also quite spectacular, much more so to me than Halley’s, but seeing it was cool from a historical perspective.)

Lunar eclipses are pretty cool, too.

Total Solar Eclipse – Charlie's Blog said
February 24, 2017 at 7:16 am

[…] seven years ago, I wrote a blog post about an event so far in the future it seemed almost a lifetime away. Well, nearly one lifetime […]