On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most amazing spectacle—a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s atmosphere—the corona—will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.
As totality approaches, you will see day turning to night and the Sun’s corona blazing in the sky. Since totality will move from the Pacific to the Atlantic, nearly everyone in the U.S. can reach this total solar eclipse within a day’s drive. Eclipses occur due to an amazing celestial coincidence—the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up to reveal the Sun’s atmosphere, it’s corona.
An earlier article, Mark Your Calendars: North American Solar Eclipse 2017, introduced this amazing celestial phenomenon.
August is a perfect time of year for camping, so consider traveling in an RV. But stay flexible if the short-term weather forecast is not favorable in your chosen location.
Following are ten picks for perfect locations to view the eclipse, weather permitting.
Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 4 seconds; totality begins at 10:19 a.m. PDT
While the Oregon coast is at risk of marine clouds, the interior of this state actually enjoys the nation’s best weather prospects. A bonus is the prospect of seeing Mt. Jefferson to the west darken as totality envelops this prominent peak 17 seconds before totality in Madras.
Snake River Valley, Idaho
Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 18 seconds; totality begins at 11:33 a.m. MDT
The Snake River Valley in eastern Idaho consists of farmland and lava fields. This area is an attractive spot for eclipse chasers because of fairly good weather prospects and many roads for evasive maneuvering in the event of local clouds.
Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 26 seconds; totality begins at 11:42 a.m. MDT
It is for good reason that the Astronomical League is holding their annual Astrocon Conference in Casper just before eclipse day. Not only does Casper have good weather prospects, but also uncrowded highways that extend west, east, north, and south could be used for every weather contingency.
Sandhills of Western Nebraska
Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 30 seconds; totality beings at 11:49 a.m. MDT
The Sandhills country of Nebraska is a prime location for viewing the eclipse. A careful weather observer has taken notes over 20 years and reports that 70 percent of late August days are favorable for eclipse viewing.
St. Joseph, Missouri
Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 39 seconds; totality begins at 1:06 p.m. CDT
St. Joseph is right on the centerline of the eclipse path and enjoys one of the longest durations of any sizable city in the nation. A large eclipse viewing party is being organized at the Rosecrans Memorial Airport with educational speakers, solar telescopes, and more.
Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 41.6 seconds; totality begins at 1:20 p.m. CDT
Carbondale has a special distinction; it is near the crossing centerlines of both the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse and the coming April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse! Also, the point of longest eclipse for 2017 is just southeast of Carbondale at the geographic location of 37º 34’ 4.3” North latitude, 89º 06’ 10.0” West longitude. If you want to experience the very longest eclipse duration, you can’t go wrong at any spot on the centerline of eclipse near Carbondale.
Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 41.2 seconds; totality begins at 1:24 p.m. CDT
The civic boosters of Hopkinsville cite their fair city as the best spot in the nation for the eclipse. While Hopkinsville is a great location, you can travel for hundreds of miles east and west along the eclipse centerline and receive within 1 or 2 seconds of maximum eclipse duration.
Duration of totality is 1 minute, 57 seconds; totality begins at 1:27 p.m. CDT
Nashville deserves special note as the largest city wholly within the path of the total solar eclipse. Surely the nation’s music capitol will produce some memorable songs on the occasion of the Great American Eclipse.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Duration of totality is 1 minute, 17 seconds; totality begins at 2:35 p.m. EDT
Weather permitting, the Great Smoky Mountains will offer great vistas for the eclipse. Clingman’s Dome will be an intriguing location to view the eclipse due to its expansive views.
Columbia, South Carolina
Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 30 seconds; totality begins at 2:43 p.m. EDT
For millions of Americans along the Atlantic Seaboard, this will be the most accessible city with accommodations in the path of total solar eclipse.
The moon shuts off the beams of the sun as it passes across it, and darkens so much of the earth as the breadth of the blue-eyed moon amounts to.
—Empedocles (Greek, 493-433 BC) Fragment (ca. 450 BC)