Total Solar Eclipse Planning (Aug 21st, U.S. Only)

Was discussing eye protection WRT lasers in the electro optical lab at work and explaining to a new hire that it depends on the wavelength. Somehow, we got off topic and started talking about eye protection needed to observe the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21st. (I’m sure it was my fault).
Most U.S. residents have never seen a total solar eclipse. It may be the single most spectacular, though brief, event of your lives. Simply breath taking. The eclipse will be visible coast to coast in a narrow band from Oregon to South Carolina. It’s definitely worth traveling to see it. I already have reservations at a campground in South Carolina. Plan for at least a day before and after. The interstates will be parking lots.


Yeah, they are already planning watch parties around here. It so happens that I live within that band indicated by the purple lines in your map.

I do remember there being an eclipse around here back in the early 80’s and that was pretty exciting. So I’m living to see two!


You really think that’s true? I was in college for at least one and there was one only 10 years ago (I think?) that at least crossed the southern half of the country. The one back in college went across the northern half at least because I was in school in NY then.

Though it is pretty amazing to think I have kids who haven’t seen one. Gonna have to remind them.


I missed the only other one in my lifetime within 1000 miles. It’s always a crap shoot with weather. Going to be flexible and travel up to 500 miles in any direction if the forecast is iffy. But will likely have to sleep in a Walmart parking lot somewhere if the campground turns out to be clouded over.


I remember one when I was a kid. They let us go out into the schoolyard to try and view it. I don’t remember much about it. It was a cloudy day. And I remember the world turning a very creepy dark gray color where (hard to explain as my 6 year old mind is being called upon) it was dark, but it was also light out.


Not a total eclipse except in some of the fringe states since about 1970.
Annular eclipses are very different and not anywhere near as impressive.

Edit: Yes, I said it. Washington, Oregon and Idaho are fringe states for an East Coaster. (1979)


Im right in the line of the eclipse, being in Greenville, SC. We are thinking about driving down to columbia, SC though so we can go to the new planetarium they have there for the event. Im pretty excited!


Oops, I guess it was the 90’s. And not a total eclipse, but it seemed pretty cool regardless.


Now what we need to do is superimpose the Glowforge Map onto the Total Eclipse Map and see who your friends in the path are.


The difference between and annular eclipse and a total eclipse is subtle. But the effect is unforgettable from what I understand. The sky goes DARK in a total eclipse. You can see stars and the suns corona clearly. At least for a very brief time.

Annular eclipses are more like dusk, though look great through a telescope with the proper solar filter protection.


I remember seeing the Annular eclipse in elementary school! They made a huge deal about it. Our classes all went outside to watch!


I remember seeing one when I was in grade school. Based on your map, it probably would have to have been the 1979 event. But I was in Maine and clearly remember seeing it. My memory says it was between 1976 and 1980. Everyone in the school went out to the playground in the middle of the school day.


There have been a gazillion partial eclipses in the last 40 years. Ya know, the type where you use the glasses to see the moon partially obscure the sun. Maybe it was one of those?

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Maybe. My memory says it was a total eclipse but my memory says a lot of things that aren’t always backed up by facts. I remember we cut a small hole in a piece of paper to have the image project onto another piece of paper and inch below it so we wouldn’t look directly into the sun.


Yep! We made those too! Well, most kids did. I don’t think I did. I was all “But, Mama, that’s where the fun is.”

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There are dozens of youtube videos that show total solar eclipses and the effect it has on the observers. This one is fairly typical. The one in August will be much, much higher in the sky for continental U.S. observers. Your surroundings should also appear much darker to the naked eye.


I’m not sure yet where I’ll be traveling to observe and document but NASA has some great forecast videos that can be used for planning purposes, that include shadow location/time/duration, etc:


My parents run an airbnb in island park Idaho and they had people contacting them at the beginning of last year trying to reserve out a room for the eclipse in august!! Even Walmart parking lots might be full!!


Partial and annular eclipses are fun to watch, but nothing beats full totality!

If you have flat, clear horizons (at sea, in a desert, on the plains), you can sometimes see darkness bands approaching as the umbral shadow (totality) approaches.

As the initial partial phase draws to a close and totality begins, the “diamond ring” effect is quite striking, and although they vary from eclipse to eclipse due to solar activity, the ghostly corona is spectacular. :sunglasses:

Thanks to the magic of the Internet Archive, here’s a link to a website I set up after my wife and I viewed the Feb 1998 eclipse from a sailing vessel off the coast of Guadeloupe. I can’t believe we were ever that young! :relaxed:

We’d see 90%+ totality here in Colorado, but are travelling to Nebraska to intercept totality).

If folks are interested, I’ll post some safe observing tips (and perhaps a related GF design or two).

Here’s the latest video from NASA showing the path of totality with times and expected durations.

Obligatory Safety Notice!

Welders glass is a great way to directly observe the partial phases, but please be sure to get #14 (the darkest grade). Anything less isn’t safe. Also, no doubling – two #7s do not equal one #14! :sunglasses:

Clear Skies!


Some photos I took of our last annular eclipse, 05-20-12. The shoot was not very well thought out so I did not have my tripod. We just jumped in the car and drove up the hill next to our house with a couple pair of my welding glasses. Kids had a great time.