Astronomers, photographers and people who are fascinated by astronomical wonders are going to want to gear up now for the first total solar eclipse visible in America since 1991. On August 21, 2017, the shadow of the moon will begin eclipsing the sun until it completely envelops the sun’s brilliance for more than two minutes. Even more amazing, it will be the first time in ninety-nine years that the eclipse will move from west to east across the US. It’s a sight worth planning for!
Fortunately for eclipse enthusiasts, there are many places along the US viewing trajectory where a full eclipse can be seen, but it will take some planning to be in the right place at the right time! Renting an RV will keep you mobile as you move around weather patterns and other interference, giving you the best chance of seeing a sight most people will never get to see-the entire solar eclipse.
When and Where Can I See the Total Eclipse?
Thanks to excellent eclipse viewing maps already created (see links below) we can plan our best viewing locations early. Here are the basics for following the path of the Pacific to Atlantic total solar eclipse:
- The ‘path of totality’ is an approximately sixty-mile-wide band of optimum viewing space along a trajectory from Oregon to South Carolina.
- The moon’s shadow will come between the earth and the sun at 10:15 a.m. PDT on the Oregon Pacific coast, traveling across America on a diagonal until it is visible from the South Carolina Atlantic coast at 2:45 p.m. EDT.
- People outside the path of totality may be able to see partial phases of the eclipse, but not the entire celestial event.
- Each location along the path will have approximately two minutes of optimum eclipse viewing.
- Clouds and weather patterns may interrupt eclipse viewing late in the game, hence the need to stay mobile.
- Eclipse followers from all over the world will be coming to America for this amazing event.
How Can We Start Planning?
This unusual event is sparking plenty of interest among astronomy clubs, foreign visitors, schools and homeschooling groups and government agencies. That doesn’t even take into account the average Jane or Joe who hopes to watch in an unfettered location along the eclipse trajectory.
Fortunately, plenty of folks in the know have created websites, maps and guides to help you start planning. Here are just a few of the places to find complete information on the 2017 total solar eclipse:
Use these helpful websites to determine where along the eclipse viewing path you’d like to set up camp. If you plan to do dispersed camping on BLM or Forest Service public lands in the West, be sure to contact the local office to determine where camping is available. Plan to arrive early, as interest is truly unprecedented and campsites will fill fast, especially in open locations.
If you plan to set up camp in a developed campground and then use your toad or tow vehicle to follow the eclipse, be sure to make reservations early, as eclipse mania will fill campgrounds fast along the best viewing routes. This is especially important for groups hoping to camp together for the event. Here is a helpful link to campgrounds in many states.
Tip: Keeping checking Community Eclipse Viewing Pages such as this one for updates on what plans are being made to welcome and encourage eclipse viewers along the ‘path of totality’.
You’ll also want to reserve RV rentals as early as possible for your family or group. Use this RV rental guide to determine what configuration recreational vehicle works best for you, where the closest RV rental location is and what the budget needs to be for your eclipse-viewing trip.
What’s left to plan? Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:
- Transportation to the US from other countries
- Transportation to RV rental location
- Best route to eclipse viewing location and other attractions along the way
- Purchasing protective eyewear certified for full solar viewing during the eclipse
- Packing the equipment, clothing and food supplies appropriate for your length of stay
- Planning an eclipse viewing party to celebrate this singular event!
- For teachers and homeschoolers, prepare lesson plans around the science, history and mythology of eclipses
August 21, 2017 could well go down in history as one of the best documented and most viewed total solar eclipses ever. Renting an RV to follow the eclipse puts you in the best possible place for playing your own part in this memorable occasion.