U.S. Solar Eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017

In summary, the 2017 solar eclipse will be visible across the width of the entire United States. The points of Greatest Eclipse and Greatest Duration are going to occur on opposite sides of the Kentucky-Illinois border.
  • #1
Borg
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I've been waiting for this for a long time and it's just a little more than a year away now. This will be the opportunity of a lifetime for people in the U.S. The 2017 solar eclipse will be visible across the width of the entire U.S! The points of Greatest Eclipse and Greatest Duration are going to occur on opposite sides of the Kentucky - Illinois border.

2017Eclipse.jpg


I plan on driving from northern Virginia to wherever has the best forecast for clear skies. Anyone else plan on driving to the total eclipse zone?
 
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Astronomy news on Phys.org
  • #2
Me. I've started doing annual vacations to the Outer Banks with a group of friends: next year, I'll be setting the destination and dates.

I'm also planning equipment upgrades to coincide with it, that I still need to work out.
 
  • #3
Hi Russ. I have zero equipment other than a camera that I will need to get lenses for and, of course, viewing glasses for myself. What would you consider to be an essential equipment list and a reputable place to get them?

I also have a 8 inch Newtonian that I'm considering to take with me but it is a piece of junk except for the optics. The equipment that it's mounted to, really needs to be replaced because it won't stay in one place. However, I don't know if it would be advisable to upgrade it for this or just use a decent camera with a telephoto lens.
 
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  • #4
The nice thing about eclipses are that the entry barrier for observing is low. About the only thing I consider essential is eclipse glasses; 5 for $15:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00712I3JA/?tag=pfamazon01-20

A cardboard box for a pinhole projector would be good too.

If you want to take pictures, you'll need a suitable camera, filter and tripod, and depending on what you have an want, there is a very wide range. I have a dslr and am looking for an excuse to buy a new telescope, so...

For your Newt, if you can get the entire moon in one frame of a photo, it is probably worth using. For a regular camera with telephoto lens, it takes a surprising amount of zoom to get a decent size for a sun/moon pic.
 
  • #5
Yes, the moon takes up the entire frame in my telescope. I'll have to start looking at new equipment and getting some practice then. :nb)
 
  • #6
This will be my second chance to view a total eclipse. The last time was in February of 1979, when the maximal point was just a few miles from my home. Unfortunately, as is typical for Oregon at that time of year, it was cloudy with no chance of seeing anything. August should provide a much better chance. I will have to travel a few miles South, but nothing unreasonable.
 
  • #7
This will be my first total eclipse. I did see a partial eclipse in the early 90's in Kentucky. I got to see the cresent patterns that formed from the eclipse shining through tree branches. Even when you know that it happens, it's still very strange to see.
 
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  • #8
Certainly worth a trip. We had a total eclipse in Germany in 1999, unfortunately clouds completely blocked the sun for about half an hour at the place where I was - guess when. Still nice to see the darkness, and at least we got some very narrow crescents before and after.
Next one in Central Europe: 2081. Oops.
 
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  • #9
I missed one in 1984 entirely due to clouds. I saw about 96% of the the 1994 total eclipse -- that will never happen again, but I wasn't making the decisions at that time...
 
  • #10
My wife and I are considering getting to the USA for this eclipse ... will mainly depend on the availability of finance ( won't get any or much change out of $10,000 for that trip) and leave entitlement from work

hopefully it comes about :smile:

Dave
 
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  • #11
I saw Hawaii, 1991 and Shanghai 2009. In both cases it was raining during totality, so I never go to to see the corona. It was still worth it just to watch day turn to night. Hawaii was more like a deep dusk. Shanghai was like midnight.

I also saw annular eclipses in San Diego, 1992, Arizona, 1994, and Redding, CA, 2012. The Redding eclipse turned the sky dark enough to clearly see Venus.

I'll drive up to Oregon for the 2017 solar eclipse. With my 2 prior rain-outs, I like the idea of being mobile.

Here's a simulation I made of this eclipse. I centered it on Nashville, but you can choose your city from the dropdown menu, or provide your lat and lon.
http://orbitsimulator.com/gravitySimulatorCloud/simulations/1460438436229_2017eclipse.html
 
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  • #12
tony873004 said:
I'll drive up to Oregon for the 2017 solar eclipse. With my 2 prior rain-outs, I like the idea of being mobile.

Hi Tony

I would have expected it to have a higher chance of cloud cover up in the Pacific NW than out on the plains somewhere ( east of the mountains )
The weather is usually just too unpredictable between the coast and the mountains :)
If I do get to do the trip from Australia, the PNW would be the last place I would aim for. I have friends in Missouri and the centreline
cuts nicely through that state. Yes, having mobility is definitely a good thing :smile:Dave
 
  • #13
Mobility will also depend on the population density nearby. Expect massive traffic jams around the line of totality in every area with a reasonable population density. Especially after totality.
 
  • #14
Borg said:
Anyone else plan on driving to the total eclipse zone?
Not me. I live inside it. :biggrin:
 
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  • #15
Borg said:
Yes, the moon takes up the entire frame in my telescope.
That's too big. You want to photograph the corona which is about 6x bigger than the Moon.
Janus said:
The last time was in February of 1979
I begged my parents to let me hop on a train from San Francisco to Oregon. They didn't let me. It was a deep partial from San Francisco and I made a nice 8mm movie.
mfb said:
Next one in Central Europe: 2081.
Southern Europe, Rock of Gibraltar Aug 2027 might be a good road trip.
davenn said:
I would have expected it to have a higher chance of cloud cover up in the Pacific NW than out on the plains somewhere
Oregon is a day shot from San Francisco. I'm counting on mobility and weather charts to dodge the clouds. It worked in Redding. I stopped at a rest stop on the centerline. Hundreds of people with large scopes set up were awaiting the eclipse. Then the clouds started rolling in. Why they stayed put I'll never know. Maybe too much equipment to want to move. With 45 minutes before 1st contact, I took a 30 minute drive to the next rest stop. Not a single cloud.
mfb said:
Expect massive traffic jams around the line of totality in every area with a reasonable population density. Especially after totality.
I don't think this will happen. It's disappointing how many people only have a passive interest. On my flight home from Shanghai, I asked the passenger next to me if he saw the eclipse. "I heard about it, but I was in a meeting." Some like me will fly across the ocean to see it, while others won't even look out the window.
Hawaii didn't have traffic jams in 1991. Redding Area didn't have traffic jams, although it was annular and I was away from population density. Most people left a few minutes after angularity ended. I stayed for the partial phases. I was only one of 2 cars left, so no traffic there. Shanghai is one continuous traffic jam, eclipse or not, so hard to tell.
 
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  • #16
tony873004 said:
That's too big. You want to photograph the corona which is about 6x bigger than the Moon.
I could probably get that with my camera's telephoto lens or buying a new, larger telephoto lens. I've been looking at the cost of upgrading my telescope and have gotten some serious sticker shock.
 
  • #17
tony873004 said:
Southern Europe, Rock of Gibraltar Aug 2027 might be a good road trip.
I know, if I'm in Europe at that time it could be interesting.
tony873004 said:
I don't think this will happen. It's disappointing how many people only have a passive interest. On my flight home from Shanghai, I asked the passenger next to me if he saw the eclipse. "I heard about it, but I was in a meeting." Some like me will fly across the ocean to see it, while others won't even look out the window.
Hawaii didn't have traffic jams in 1991. Redding Area didn't have traffic jams, although it was annular and I was away from population density. Most people left a few minutes after angularity ended. I stayed for the partial phases. I was only one of 2 cars left, so no traffic there. Shanghai is one continuous traffic jam, eclipse or not, so hard to tell.
Hawaii is a set of tiny islands.
Southern Germany was a huge network of traffic jams after the total eclipse. After about an hour with just a few kilometers of progress we decided to take some really small side roads to see the countryside. Was not much faster, but more interesting. After ~3-4 hours and 100 km of progress (air line), traffic normalized somewhat.
 
  • #18
tony873004 said:
I don't think this will happen. It's disappointing how many people only have a passive interest. On my flight home from Shanghai, I asked the passenger next to me if he saw the eclipse. "I heard about it, but I was in a meeting." Some like me will fly across the ocean to see it, while others won't even look out the window.
Some friends of mine went to the total eclipse of 2006 in Turkey, and the local construction workers remained at their tasks for the duration of totality :)
 
  • #19
Interesting. Like russ, I'll probably be in the Outer Banks at the time. It may occur during our drive home, in which case I'll plan the route accordingly. Thanks for the tip!
 
  • #20
tony873004 said:
I don't think this will happen. It's disappointing how many people only have a passive interest.

don't be so sure of that

you mentioned Shanghai ... yeah fair enough

but in any western world country, it will be very different

the last eclipse I saw was the 2012 one in Cairns, Australia. They estimated more than 10,000 visitors came into the region for the display. I spoke to people from all over the world on the beach I was on.
rental cars, accommodation etc was full months before the event. Every viewing vantage point was crammed with people, telescopes and cameras

This USA one coming up isn't quite so bad as the centreline passes right across the country and there will be plenty of room to spread out
Dave
 
  • #21
I saw October 1995. It was cloudy all day, with only about ten minutes of sunlight. Fortunately, it was the right ten minutes.
 
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  • #22
I picked up a new camera in February, for a science project here at the forum.
But my choice was based mostly on the upcoming solar eclipse.
36x zoom and 16 mp.

I probably should have researched it more, as I had no idea if 36x zoom would be enough.
It appears that it will be adequate.



And I'm not sure if everyone saw the eclipse from the plane video:



But it made me want to hike to the top of Mt. Jefferson ( 44°40'48" N 121°17'56W, elevation 10,500 feet), which is only 100 miles away, and almost directly in the path.
Unfortunately, I'm running into all sorts of problems finding information on access to the mountain.
And the information I am finding, does not look promising:
1. Pamelia Lake Trailhead: 20 groups are permitted in the area each day
2. Woodpecker Trail #3442: Parking: 3-4 vehicles
3. Whitewater Trailhead: Parking: 25 vehicles​

I may just end up driving to Salem that day. It's only 50 miles away.
 
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  • #23
Janus said:
This will be my second chance to view a total eclipse. The last time was in February of 1979
That was been the one I saw as a major partial eclipse in Michigan when I was a grad student. I must have forgotten that it was going to happen, because I remember being surprised by the "oddness" of the sunlight on a clear day when I walked out of the physics building, and then noticing the little crescents in the shadow of a tree. I later learned that it was something like 80% total, where I was.
 
  • #24
OmCheeto said:
And I'm not sure if everyone saw the eclipse from the plane video:
Without a doubt, the coolest eclipse video I have seen! Thanks.
 
  • #25
1oldman2 said:
Without a doubt, the coolest eclipse video I have seen! Thanks.
I actually thought it was fake when I first saw it, so I snooped around.

Chasing the shadow of the moon: To intercept eclipse, Alaska Airlines adjusts flight plan to delight astronomers
...
In window seat 32F, Joe Rao was one of the dozen astronomers and veteran “eclipse chasers” among the 181 passengers onboard, gazing out oval windows as the moon blocked the sun for nearly two minutes.
He’s an associate astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium (where astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is director). About a year ago, Rao discovered that Alaska Airlines Flight 870 from Anchorage to Honolulu would intersect the “path of totality” – the darkest shadow of the moon as it passes over the Earth.
But the flight’s normally scheduled departure time would have been 25 minutes too early, missing the grand spectacle.
Rather than attempt to move the sun or the moon or the Earth, Rao called Alaska Airlines.
Alaska decided to move the plane.
...
“We recognize our customer’s passions,” Craig said. “Certainly we can’t change flight plans for every interest, but this was a special moment, so we thought it was worth it. Now we have a plane full of customers who will be treated to a special occurrence.”
...

Incredible customer service, IMHO.
 
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  • #26
OmCheeto said:
Incredible customer service, IMHO.
As I watched the video I couldn't help but think the flight path was "custom" now it all makes sense, the timing of the video starting as well as the flight path. Thanks again for posting that. :smile: (by the way the video test clip has me envying your equipment)
 
  • #27
1oldman2 said:
...(by the way the video test clip has me envying your equipment)
Only $200.
The only things I don't like about it:
1. No manual focus. I really needed that for the science experiment. It took me days to figure out how to trick it into focusing where I wanted it to.
2. The instruction manual is over 100 pages long. It has about 3 bazillion features that I doubt I'll ever use. (example: Baby mode. Used when taking pictures of babies. o0))
 
  • #28
OmCheeto said:
1. No manual focus. I really needed that for the science experiment. It took me days to figure out how to trick it into focusing where I wanted it to.
auto-focus :thumbdown:
OmCheeto said:
2. The instruction manual is over 100 pages long. It has about 3 bazillion features that I doubt I'll ever use. (example: Baby mode. Used when taking pictures of babies. o0))
This is likely due to a "job security" program in the engineering dept.
Still your $200 beats my cell phone camera hands down. :smile:
 
  • #30
mfb said:
So much cooler with a Concorde - more than an hour of totality.
I would check their math, as that doesn't sound right. But being that it's Nature, I can probably trust them.
Coincidentally, I was just taking pictures of the SR-71 Blackbird about 9 days ago with my new solar eclipse camera.
I calculated yesterday that the eclipse shadow will be traveling at ≈2,200 mph when it passes over my head, which is the cruising speed of the Blackbird.

Anyways, I was curious what the shadow would look like as it approached from 10,000 ft vs 35,000 ft(from the Alaska Airlines video from last month).
Visibility on a clear day is easily 100 miles.
So 100 miles/2200 mph * 60min/hr = 2.7 minutes (to get still images of the approaching shadow)
2200 mph = 0.6 miles/second (perhaps I'll make a 10 second video)​
Totality lasts 2 minutes (to get images of the eclipse itself, and maybe a panorama of the shadow)

hmmm... Can anyone tell that this is my first eclipse?

How big is the shadow?
≈61 miles in diameter (from Borg's original link and http://www.mreclipse.com/Special/SEprimer.html)
So the shadows edge will be 30 miles away. meh. Too far away to be interesting.

Good grief. The total eclipse only lasts two minutes.
I think I'll skip the coronal spectrometry.
But then again...
@Andy Resnick , what do you think?

But then again...
That looks like a sweet image.
image003.jpg

I think I'll try it. :oldsmile:
 
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  • #31
OmCheeto said:
<snip>

Good grief. The total eclipse only lasts two minutes.
I think I'll skip the coronal spectrometry.
But then again...
@Andy Resnick , what do you think?

I say go for it: Fortune favors the bold!
 
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  • #32
OmCheeto said:
I would check their math, as that doesn't sound right. But being that it's Nature, I can probably trust them.
The moon has an orbital velocity of 1.02 km/s, or roughly Mach 3. The Earth at the equator has a rotation speed of a bit more than Mach 1, leaving a difference of a bit less than Mach 2 if the eclipse is directly at zenith. It works with a Concorde - but only close to the equator around noon.
 
  • #33
I think that I will be skipping the telescope upgrades but I'm drawing a blank on my searches for camera equipment. I have a Nikon D5100 camera that I would like to use. If anyone can help, I am trying to determine what telephoto lens would be needed to have the sun take up around 50% of the picture at max zoom. I currently have a lens with a 300 mm zoom. Do I need something with a greater zoom?
 
  • #34
Borg said:
I think that I will be skipping the telescope upgrades but I'm drawing a blank on my searches for camera equipment. I have a Nikon D5100 camera that I would like to use. If anyone can help, I am trying to determine what telephoto lens would be needed to have the sun take up around 50% of the picture at max zoom. I currently have a lens with a 300 mm zoom. Do I need something with a greater zoom?
I'm guessing that 300-400 mm is exactly what you want.

With the Sun taking up 50% of the picture, you will be losing the outer edges of the corona.

Google for Eclipse picture. Choose the one closest to the one you would like to take and note the size of the corona.
Since the Moon has the same angular size as the Sun, take a picture of the Moon with your 300mm lens.
Compare it to the Eclipse pictures you Googled and ask if it would properly frame the corona.

The challenge in taking pictures of the Corona is that it has a large dynamic range.
If you properly expose for the red flares, your corona will be too faint to show up in your picture.
If you properly expose the inner corona, the flares will be overexposed and the outer corona will be too faint to show up in your picture.
If you properly expose the outer corona, the inner corona and the flares will be washed out.
With a long enough exposure, you can see features on the Moon due to Earthshine.

So you need to bracket your shots.
Your Nikon can do this automatically.
Take multiple pictures in rapid succession, each with a different exposure, covering a wide range of exposures.
After the eclipse, photoshop them together to get a final image that properly exposes the Earthshine, flares and all parts of the corona.
 
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  • #35
I've always had difficulty taking photos of the moon because the auto-focus can't lock in on it. I will have to practice using the manual settings. Given the exposure references, I'll need a good tripod also. My list continues to grow... :smile:
 

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