On August 21st, a solar eclipse will travel along a narrow ribbon across the United States. When the eclipse makes landfall over Oregon, it will be traveling at 2,400 miles per hour, those along the path of totality will get but just a short window of totality before the eclipse sails on towards its next destination.
But to see the total solar eclipse, one must be within the path of totality. Otherwise, all that will be experienced, weather permitting, is a partial eclipse. And if you plan to view the solar eclipse of 2017, totality means everything. Solar eclipse totality really matters.
How Long Will Totality Last?
Generally, a solar eclipse will last over the course of several hours from start to finish, but for totality (the part where the sun is completely blocked out) that can last upwards of 7 minutes and 31 seconds.
Totality for the solar eclipse of 2017 will range anywhere from just under a minute to around 2 minutes and 40 seconds, depending on the location.
On June 30, 1973, totality lasted just over 7 minutes. At that time, it was the longest total solar eclipse in several hundred years. But the next longest total solar eclipse won’t occur until 2050.
NationalEclipse.com has a great overview of the path of totality here
What Was The “Longest” Total Solar Eclipse?
In 1973, a group of astronomers along with the first prototype of the Concorde, sought to extend totality 10 times past what they would see if viewing from the ground.
Developed jointly in 1960 between the British and French Governments, the Concorde was nearing the end of its test program. Capable of chasing the eclipse and “extending” totality to just over 70 minutes, racing across Earth at twice the speed of sound was just what this group of astronomers needed.
Of course, this was all theory until it was time to board the jet that June morning of 1973. Per Motherboard (website), two minutes after takeoff, the aircraft hit Mach 1, or about 707 mph at altitude, and headed southeast toward the moving shadow.
They continued, “The plan seemed deceptively simple. Closing in at maximum velocity, Concorde would swoop down from the north and intercept the shadow of the moon over northwest Africa. Traveling together at almost the same speed, Concorde would essentially race the solar eclipse across the surface of the planet.”
At the end of the day, their plan worked, as they observed totality of the eclipse for a record 74 minutes. Was this the “longest” total solar eclipse observed? Well, not technically. But it does add to the mystique of such an experience and the quest for mankind to catch a glimpse of this rare event.
What Makes The Path Of Totality Unique?
The Path of Totality is unique in nature, here are 6 characteristics that make it unique:
- Generally 10,000 miles long
- Generally 70-100 miles wide
- Covers less than 1% of Earth’s surface
- One total eclipse occurs every year or two
- Can cross any part of earth
- 375 year average to see two total eclipses from one place
How Many People Will Experience Totality During Solar Eclipse of 2017?
In studying the Path of Totality for the upcoming eclipse, Michael Bakich of Astronomy Magazine found that there are more than 10 million people that live in the Path of Totality and an additional 28 million people who live within 60 miles of the Path. This coupled with the thousands of people traveling from all ends of the earth to viewing locations within the Path of Totality will make this arguably the most viewed of solar eclipse of all time.
In all, the Path of Totality will race across 10 different states beginning with Oregon and ending in North and South Carolina before heading out to sea. Of these 10 states, per Eclipse2017.org, “Only a tiny chip of a tiny fraction of a tiny part of the tiniest southwestern tip of the beard of Montana will see totality.”
But just for but a glimpse of the diamond ring effect, which occurs at the beginning and end of totality, a chip of a fraction of anything will be well worth it.
To View The Total Eclipse, Totality Is Everything
If you plan to view the eclipse from within the Path of Totality, remember being within the Path is imperative as cities like Nashville, St Louis, or Kansas City, you will need to be in the right part of town to view the total eclipse. If you’re not, you will only be able to experience a partial eclipse.
NASA has a great resource online for viewing maps of the Path of Totality. Here, you can view their detailed maps, and as they say, “Find your city, and get to the path!”
Where Will You View The Total Eclipse?
Listed as the best viewing spot in the United States by many experts, the small Central Oregon town of Madras is your best bet for clear skies and just over 2 minutes of totality. Although camping and lodging began booking up well over 2 years ago, Organic Earthly Delights is opening their farm up at Cottonwood Corners to a unique glamping experience for the eclipse that will provide memories that will last for a lifetime.
Space is limited and booking up fast with Organic Earthly Delights as the small town of just over 6,000 people expects to balloon to well over 50,000 the week of the eclipse. You can learn more here about this one of a kind solar eclipse of 2017 glamping event.