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Total Solar Eclipse
Get a jump start on booking your 2017 Yellowstone-Teton Territory tours by offering this ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME opportunity. We already have received calls and e-mails about this event. Create your own packages, with our assistance, for a very unique celestial event.
View the first TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE visible over the United States since 1979 during your tour through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the surrounding region.
The event will be happening on Monday, August 21, 2017, and the projected path of the eclipse is directly over the national parks and this region.
Consider at least a 4-day tour between August 19-23rd.
Combine this once-in-a-lifetime experience with other great activities such as white water rafting, world-class fly fishing, trail rides, hikes and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Contact Yellowstone Teton Territory at [email protected] or by calling 1-800-634-3246 for more information.
The map shown below depicts the projected path of the solar eclipse.
What is a total solar eclipse?
Essentially, it's when the moon moves right in front of the sun, covering it completely for a very short time. It darkens the whole sky, lets you look right at the blackened sun (only when it's completely covered, though), and shows you the beautiful corona that surrounds the sun. Stars come out, the horizon glows, the temperature drops, and day turns into night. II's one of the most beautiful things you can ever see on earth.
Aren't these pretty common?
Well, one happens about every year or every other year, somewhere on earth. However, you have to be situated in a very narrow strip of land (the "path of totality") if you want to see the total phase of the eclipse. Otherwise, all you see is a pretty boring partial eclipse. Very few people (as a percentage of the overall population) have ever seen a total solar eclipse.
Wasn't there just an eclipse of the sun in America not too many years ago?
The only total eclipses that have happened in the last 40 years in America were in 1979 (in the NW part of the country only) and 1991 (Hawaii only). Anything else you saw was a partial or an annular eclipse, and those are NOTHING compared to the absolutely amazing spectacle of a total eclipse!!!
Where do I need to be to watch it?
For the 2017 eclipse, there is a strip of land about 100 miles wide or so (the path of totality) that stretches from central Oregon through South Carolina. There are maps on www.eclipse2017.org that will show you exactly where you need to be to see the total eclipse.
When will it happen?
Monday, August 21, 2017. Clear your calendar.
That's a long time from now.
You can never start planning too early for these things. Total eclipses happen somewhere on earth about once a year, but they're usually in very out-of-the-way places. There are groups of die-hard eclipse chasers who are so caught up in the spectacle, they travel to the far corners of the earth to see them. Their planning begins years in advance, and usually entails difficult travel to the remotest parts of the earth. For the 2017 eclipse, we get to see one right smack dab in the middle of good old American soil! Check on www.eclipse2017.org for the actual times of totality from your location.
What cities are in the path?
There is a complete listing on www.eclipse2017.org, but here are some of the bigger ones: Salem OR, Ontario OR, Rexburg ID, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Casper, North Platte, Lincoln (Barely), Leavenworth, the north side of Kansas City, Jefferson City, the south side of St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Carbondale IL, Paducah KY, Bowling Green KY (barely), Nashville, Cleveland TN (barely!), Smokey Mountains National Park (southern part only), Greenville, Columbia SC, Charleston (barely!).
What cities are close, but not in the path?
A better question. You will NOT see totality from any of these places, though they are very close to the path. Move into the path, and see totality Bend, Portland OR, Boise, Yellowstone NP, Cheyenne, Denver, Ogallala, Omaha, Topeka, the south side of Kansas City, the north side of St. Louis, Louisville, Evansville IN, Murray KY, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Gatlinburg, Atlanta, Augusta GA, Charlotte, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach.
How do you know this far in advance where the eclipse is going to be visible - in such detail?
A lot of math. No, seriously, astronomers know the equations that model the motion of the earth and moon extraordinarily accurately. People have predicted eclipses for thousands of years, but with computers, those predictions are now very simple and VERY accurate. We can predict eclipses thousands of years from now with astounding accuracy - in fact, the only thing that prevents our long-range predictions from being perfect is that we don't know exactly how much longer the day will get as the earth's spin gradually slows down over thousands of years! Just little things like that...
I'm very close to the path of totality. Won't I see anything where I am?
No!!! You have to be IN the path of totality, or you'll only see a partial eclipse! Those are pretty common, and are absolutely nothing to see, compared "with the beauty of totality. If you get nothing from this at all, please get this: You MUST be IN the path of totality to experience the glory of a total eclipse! If you are not in the path of totality, then move yourself into it on eclipse day, and you will come away understanding what we were talking about! Miss it, and you'll have no idea what all the people who WERE in the path are raving about the next day, and you will have missed it! The pictures you'll see in the newspaper and on TV will be NOTHING compared to the experience of having been there! Do NOT miss out!
I have to drive a long way to be in the path. Why should I go to all that trouble?
If you go, you will understand. It is simply the most unbelievable thing you can ever experience in your life. If you stay home, then nothing we can say will convince you that you should've gone. Please trust people like us who have seen dozens of these, on all continents - don't miss it!
I live in the path! Can I watch it from my house?
Absolutely!! You are incredibly lucky, and you should invite lots of friends over. Please see www.eclipse2017.org for viewing tips, and get enough pairs of solar viewing glasses for all the people who will experience it with you. An eclipse is even better if shared with a few hundred of your closest friends!
I'm not in the path. Where exactly should I go to watch it?
At www.eclipse2017.org. We will have the locations of all the official viewing areas that have been set up by the local communities in the path. Hopefully there will be a lot of these, and they will be set up with security and eclipse viewing glasses so you can safely enjoy the event.
So a lot of people will show up for this?
Thousands will. There are literally thousands of people from all over the world who chase these things, every eclipse, no matter where. They go to the deserts of Mongolia, to cruise ships in the South Pacific, to remote areas of Indonesia, Angola, Australia and even the Antarctic to catch a fleeting glimpse of the eclipsed sun. And we get to see this one right in our back yards. You can expect there to be thousands of people from near and far who converge on the USA for this amazing spectacle. Regarding "official" viewing areas: rules will be set up by each community's security officials and governments, and you may even need to sign up beforehand. But if you want to get into an official viewing area, you should be able to.
Can I bring my kids? They'll be in school that day!
Get them out of school. The school will probably not let them watch it anyway, due to liability concerns, and you as their parent are their first and best teacher. Get yourself out of work, and get them out of school. Get to the path, make a long weekend of it, and go see something together that they will tell their grandchildren about. We're talking World Series, Super Bowl, Moon Landing-type stuff here. They will remember it for the rest of their lives, and you will be their supreme hero for having shown them that something this beautiful exists on the earth we all share. Even with kids who have been completely desensitized by video games, a total eclipse will drop their jaws! Make sure you have enough viewing glasses for everyone, though!
Maybe they'll watch the eclipse at school.
Don't count on it. While schools are fantastic for giving lesson plans and teaching the mechanics of eclipses, it is an unfortunate truth that schools have to be completely focused on liability these days. They simply can't allow kids to watch these types of phenomena, because of the off chance that one kid will stare at the sun without filters and blind himself. YOU are your children's best teacher, so get them out of school, get them a pair of solar viewing glasses (and teach them the importance of using them safely!), and get them and yourself to the path. You'll understand why after it's over. They can report to their class afterwards, and try to explain how cool it was to all the kids whose parents didn't take them. They won't be able to.
Should I bring my animals?
NO! Animals will be scared senseless by the eclipse, and you will want to be enjoying yourself instead of calming crazed critters. Everyone around you will not want to be bothered by your pets either, so please leave them at home. Again, you have to take the word of someone who's seen many of these - the dogs and cats will NOT like it! In fact, you'll find that, even though you understand 100% what is going on, you'll still feel a little of the fear that prehistoric people must have felt in seeing the sun get swallowed up as day turns into night. Please don't subject your trusting pets to that fear!
Can't I just drive to somewhere in the path, get out and watch it wherever I end up?
Technically, you'll be able to see totality from anywhere in the path. The closer you are to the center of the path, the longer totality will be for you. If this is your first eclipse, it's a good plan to try and get as close to that center line as possible. But you should also be respectful of where you set up. The side of the road is not good for safety, and people's yards and parking lots belong to them! Rest areas may be very crowded, but parks and other open public areas are wonderful. Official viewing areas will be listed at www.eclipse2017.org, so visit early and often to keep up to date!
This is a biggie. You CANNOT look at the sun while ANY PART of its bright disk is still visible. The moon does cover quite a bit of it during the partial phases leading up to totality, but you HAVE to use special solar viewing glasses (that you can get at cost on eclipse2017.org) to look at it during the partial phases. You MUST use these glasses to look at the sun during this time, and if you use them correctly, it's 100% safe. During the brief period of totality ONLY, you can look directly at the totally eclipsed sun without any kind of filters, and you will not believe the sight. In fact, during totality ONLY, you can even look with binoculars if you want. The view is simply stunning. After totality, though, the glasses have to go back on. To repeat: You MUST use special solar viewing glasses whenever the sun is not TOTALLY eclipsed. And you CAN look directly at the sun without the glasses ONLY during the very brief time when the sun is in total eclipse. It's only a minute or two, but the memory of it will last your lifetime. If you're not in the path of totality, you have to use the filters for the ENTIRE eclipse, and you will not see any of the cool things during totality that will amaze you. You might as well stay at work, see the pictures in the paper the next day, and go away wondering what all the fuss was about. (Please visit www.eclipse2017.org for more information about safely viewing the eclipse. Responsibility for your eyes belongs solely to you!)
How do I take pictures of the eclipse?
Unless you have special solar filters for your camera and telescope, you can't even set up for pictures like this - the heat of the sun will melt your lenses! If you want to pull out a point-and-shoot during totality, be advised that your pictures will NOT be very good. First of all, you need a huge telephoto lens to take pictures of something the size of the sun. If you don't believe it, go out and take a picture of the full moon the next time you see one. It's about the same size and brightness as the totally eclipsed sun, and it will show you the kind of results you'll get. Leave picture-taking to the astronomers and the folks with filters and huge telephoto lenses, and simply enjoy the view with your eyes. Whatever you do, do NOT use any type of flash! Not only will you not get pictures that are any good (see above), but you'll ruin the experience of the eclipse for everyone around you when your flash goes off! Put the camera up, and watch the thing! No picture ever did justice to a total eclipse anyway!
So a telescope is out, too?
Yup, unless you have a special solar filter that fits over the end of the scope (not at the eyepiece!) Those are about $200 each, so you should know whether you have one or not! Ditto for binoculars - if you bring them, you can ONLY use them during the brief period of totality. You may see professionals at the viewing areas who do have the right setup - some will even have their scopes hooked up to TV monitors. ASK NICELY, and they will probably let you grab a peek. Keep your kids clear of their stuff, though I :-)
What if it's cloudy that day?
Eclipse chasers don't like to use the C-word, but they do have to consider the possibility. If it's cloudy, you won't see anything. So veteran eclipse chasers plan for a viewing location that historically has given signs of having as few clouds as possible on eclipse day. But we're still subject to the whims of weather, and so mobility is very important. It's not unusual for die-hard eclipse chasers to keep airplanes on standby, in case they have to make a last-minute run for it to escape clouds! With mobility as easy as it is in America, though, we should be able to look at forecasts a day or two before, and move accordingly to try and get into a path location that promises to be cloud-free. Remember that most eclipse chasers think nothing of going to the remotest parts of the world - a little diversion such as having to relocate to Wyoming from North Carolina is NOTHING compared to the wonder of seeing a total eclipse! Again, after you see it, you will understand why.
Can't I just watch the whole thing on TV?
Uh huh, you can - the same way you can watch a wonderful meal being eaten on TV, a live shot of a huge pile of hundred-dollar bills on TV, or a guy having a great date with a wonderful woman - on TV. It's not the same as being there by a long shot! You cannot rely on any picture in any newspaper or on TV as being even remotely equivalent to the experience of having been there and seen the eclipse yourself. So if you think that watching on TV is a good enough substitute, again you'll find yourself wondering what all the fuss is about the next day from those people who were there. Please don't be left out. Watch the pictures on TV only enough to laugh at how lame they are compared to your memory of having seen the real thing!
After the eclipse - then what?
You will be asking yourself within about a half second when the next one is. The answer is that there isn't another one on land until 2020 (in southern South America ONLY). After that the next "easy" one is again in America (as well as Mexico), in 2024. But why wait that long? Get to this one!
Seriously - why all this excitement over an eclipse?
If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand. If you already understand, nothing I can say will matter. It's like having kids, or riding a Harley, or being in love. It is a spiritual experience for some, an intellectual and emotional unraveling for others. But truly, it just is - and you just have to believe. Can you speak to our group / give an interview / consult on eclipse setups and viewing areas / just generally help us out? Absolutely! All we ask is that you cover our expenses, and plan ahead to avoid the last-minute rush! Just contact [email protected].
For more information, go to www.eclipse2017.org!