Travel the path of the solar eclipse

Monday, August 14, 2017

Follow the shadow of the moon as it completely blocks out the sun on Aug. 21, moving along a 3,000-mile path from Oregon’s Pacific coast to the eastern shore of South Carolina.

The coastline at Yaquina Head, Ore., will be the first place in the “path of totality,” the 69- to 73-mile-wide area where viewers can expect to see the moon entirely block the sun. People outside this path will see a partial eclipse.

Unfortunately for residents of Oregon’s historically cloudy coast, NOAA scientists have calculated the chances of a clear day at about 44 percent.

A few hours east, however, the odds increase dramatically. Because the Cascade Range creates a significant rain shadow across central and eastern Oregon, chances are high that the view will be unobstructed.

Viewers in Madras, Ore., about two hours from Portland, will be able to watch the moon’s shadow race across Mount Jefferson to the west as it is enveloped in totality 17 seconds before Madras.

If you want to watch an eerie event from an eerie place, here’s your chance. Lime, Ore., is a ghost town that was abandoned after its hulking cement plant closed in 1980.

“Seeing a partial eclipse and saying that you have seen an eclipse is like standing outside an opera house and saying that you have seen the opera,” said astronomer Jay M. Pasachoff, as quoted in “Totality: Eclipses of the Sun.”

Just south of the path of totality is the Craters of the Moon National Monument, where lava fields have been used as training grounds for astronauts. Its eclipse-day festivities will be in nearby Arco, Idaho.

Western Nebraska may be a good place to catch a clear view, perhaps at Carhenge (yep, like Stonehenge, but with cars) in Alliance. Some scholars think the formation of stones and holes at Stonehenge may have allowed its builders to predict eclipses.

About 20 federal highways are in the path of totality, according to the Federal Highway Administration, including all 260 miles of Interstate 80 in Nebraska between Paxton and Lincoln.

Dannebrog, Neb., was founded by Danes and is famous around the state for the Danish Baker’s pizza. Owner Tom Schroeder — “I’m neither Danish nor a baker, but Dannebrog is not known for its veracity” — says he will sell slices before and after the eclipse but not during because he’ll be outside watching.

McCool Junction, Neb., won’t get McCold, but the air temperature during totality drops by an average of about 12 degrees Fahrenheit, according to astrophysicist Fred Espenak.

Continue to map to view path. 

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