THE TOTAL ECLIPSE IS ALMOST HERE!
On August 21, 2017, America will be treated to its first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in nearly 100 years. It will also be the first total eclipse exclusive to the U.S. since before the nation’s founding in 1776. From Oregon to South Carolina, the eclipse will trace a 67-mile-wide path of totality across the country and millions of Americans will witness a once-in-a-lifetime event as the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and day turns to night for up to almost three minutes. To experience the total phase of the eclipse, you must be located within the narrow path of totality (list of cities below).
WHAT IS AN ECLIPSE AND WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO SEE?
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and the Moon blocks the Sun for a viewer on Earth. During a total eclipse, the Moon lines up perfectly to fully obscure the Sun, resulting in “totality”; in a partial eclipse, the Moon and the Sun are not perfectly aligned and only part of the Sun is blocked; and during an annular eclipse, alignment is perfect but the Moon is too far away from the Earth to completely obscure the Sun. Due to the peculiarities of the Moon’s orbit, no more than five solar eclipses can occur in any given year, and no more than two can be total. This, in addition to the fact that a total solar eclipse is visible on the Earth’s surface only along a very narrow path for just a few short minutes, makes totality one of nature’s rarest events.
Most people who have seen a total eclipse have described it as the most spectacular natural event they have ever witnessed. It starts as the Moon slowly obscures more and more of the Sun. When just a small sliver of light remains, you might see “Baily’s beads” through your certified safe eclipse glasses, caused by the last rays of sunlight streaming through lunar valleys. Next: the beads dissolve into one final “diamond” in the sky. And then “totality,” as the soft wisps of the solar corona surround a huge hole where the Sun used to be. You might notice a temperature drop and birds flying home to their nests. You’re standing in a strange twilight, while a sunset glows all around you. Finally, totality comes to an end as the events occur in reverse order.
TOTALITY ECLIPSE TIMING (BY CITY)
- Casper, WY: 11:42:40 AM (2 min 26 sec)
- Glenrock, WY: 11:43:30 AM (2 min 22 sec)
- Douglas, WY: 11:44:25 AM (2 min 22 sec)
- Glendo, WY: 11:45:05 AM (2 min 27 sec)
- Wheatland, WY: 11:46:07 AM (0 min 52 sec)
- Fort Laramie, WY: 11:46:13 AM (2 min 14 sec)
- Lusk, WY: 11:46:23 AM (1 min 52 sec)
- Torrington, WY: 11:46:59 AM (2 min 01 sec)
- Huntley, WY: 11:47:23 AM (1 min 25 sec)
- Mitchell, NE: 11:47:47 AM (1 min 54 sec)
- Scottsbluff, NE: 11:48:11 AM (1 min 42 sec)
- Gering, NE: 11:48:19 AM (1 min 28 sec)
- Hemingford, NE: 11:48:52 AM (2 min 17 sec)
- Crawford, NE: 11:48:55 AM (0 min 43 sec)
- Bayard, NE: 11:48:57 AM (1 min 32 sec)
- Alliance, NE: 11:49:13 AM (2 min 30 sec)
- Bridgeport, NE: 11:49:33 AM (1 min 16 sec)
- Hyannis, NE: 11:51:28 AM (2 min 19 sec)
- Mullen, NE: 11:53:17 AM (1 min 24 sec)
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PREPARE BEFORE THE ECLIPSE?
- Get Gas & Food! Make sure you are prepared with groceries and gas that you will need through the weekend before visitors begin to arrive. It is anticipated that most visitors will be in position to see the eclipse by Friday, August 18th.
- Read this article. It has 25 great tips to plan for the 2017 eclipse (Courtesy: Astronomy Magazine)
WHAT SHOULD I DO DURING THE ECLIPSE?
- Only view the eclipse with solar eclipse glasses.
- Don’t wear eclipse glasses while driving.
- Don’t look at the non-eclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device.
- Don’t look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device while wearing your eclipse glasses.
- Get to your viewing spot early.
- Do not view the eclipse or take photographs while driving. Find a safe spot to pull over.
- Be prepared for the weather! Bring a jacket, sunscreen and an umbrella. It is typically hot and dry in August but the temperatures may cool significantly during totality of the eclipse.
- Bring water and snacks for you and your pet.
- Don’t forget your medication and emergency contact information.
- Fill your gas tank early.
- Traffic will be heavy and lines for food and in stores will be long, so exercise patience.
- Don’t congregate on or walk along railroad tracks.
- Don’t forget, totality is around 2 minutes, plus or minus 30 seconds through the path of totality; but the light will be noticeably different in the hours leading up to totality and immediately after and cover the state. Please be aware of changes in traffic patterns across Nebraska.
- Once the eclipse is over, prepare for higher than normal traffic volumes. Pay attention, be aware and wear your seatbelt. Don’t drink and drive.
- Don’t stop on any roadway nor the side of the road to view the eclipse. Please exit to a safe location or designated viewing area.
- Be aware of pedestrians on smaller local roads, people may be crossing in areas where they normally don’t.
- Avoid traveling along the main path of the eclipse during the event if at all possible.
- Please make sure to yield to emergency response law enforcement vehicles as they respond to any emergencies or traffic problems.
- Turn your lights on manually, and leave them on all day on Eclipse Day. Don’t rely on the automatic feature of your vehicle to turn them on.
- Be vigilant of local wildlife.
- Keep up to date on traffic by:
- Following @nebraska511
- Using Nebraska511 app
Friday, August 18th – Almost everyone who plans to see the eclipse will be in position. Foreign visitors will be be wrapping up their sightseeing tours of our country, and getting to their selected viewing areas early to ensure that no travel glitches have an opportunity to deprive them of their true goal. Cities along the path who have decided to create official eclipse viewing areas will have their focus set to logistics, ensuring the comfort, enjoyment and safety of their guests. People who have converged on those sites to view the eclipse will begin the countdown to eclipse day, as final preparations are made to ensure that photography equipment, filters, chairs, tables, telescopes, TV monitors, webcast equipment, hats and sunscreen are all at the ready for the big day! Last-minute weather forecasts are checked, and anyone with the slightest fear of clouds on eclipse day will invoke their travel contingencies. Weather monitoring will proceed around the clock, with live updates issued hourly so as to best prepare eclipse-chasers who will need to move at a moment’s notice. Nothing will stand in the way of seeing the eclipse! The party begins….
Saturday & Sunday, August 19th-20th – Last-minute arrivals will get in place, together with those who have had to fight their own travel glitches, and make alternate arrangements to get here. Some will have missed their pre-eclipse tours, but that’s OK – as long as they’re in the path by Sunday night, all is OK. The worry can then focus on equipment, mental preparedness, and weather. Scientists and amateur photographers who will be recording the event go over their preparations one last time. Sequences of events and actions that have been planned years in advance, and practiced countless times to ensure mastery, will be practiced one last time. All batteries will be replaced with new ones. All film, batteries and memory cards will be double- and triple-checked. Everything will be set up, taped down, sealed against the dew, and put to bed for the last time. Tomorrow is the big day, and nothing can go wrong.
Monday, August 21st – ECLIPSE DAY! No human action can disrupt the incessant dance of the cosmos, and the moon’s shadow will not wait on you if you’re not ready. Like a mindless juggernaut, it plows its way through space toward a collision course with earth. As predicted by the astronomers decades in advance, the shadow arrives with perfect accuracy, and touches down in the north Pacific Ocean at 16:48:33 UT*, at local sunrise. (At that spot, the sun will actually rise while eclipsed. This is a sight few people – even veteran eclipse chasers – have seen, and from what we hear, it is quite uncanny.) A minute later, the entire shadow (the “umbral cone”) will have made landfall – er, ocean-fall – and will be racing across the surface of the water at supersonic speed. Except for folks on ships at sea, and the occasional ocean-dwelling critter who dares to venture too near the surface, nothing sentient will note the passing of the umbra – until land gets in the way.