Sky's Up July-September 2017 - Page 24

oregon “Where before there was light and heat, now there is only a cold, black hole in the sky surrounded by a ghostly crown. The corona, a ring of immense pearly tendrils, envelops the darkness and stretches off into the sky in all directions. It is unimaginably beautiful and only ever visible during these few precious minutes of totality.” it’s time to align Less than two months from now, a total solar eclipse will cut a narrow path across the contiguous United States and give millions of observers one of the most profound astronomical experiences an individual can have. For those in the right position with the right weather, the hallmarks of night will gracefully emerge as the Moon’s shadow swallows the Sun and nudges day aside for a few fleeting moments. This promise of a surreal spectacle has rightfully caused anticipation for the Aug. 21st total solar eclipse to reach a fever pitch. It has been more than 38 years since any part of the 48 states that make up the contiguous U.S. has been in the path of one of these epic events. Unlike the 1979 eclipse that swung across only five states in the country’s northwest corner, this summer’s total solar eclipse has a path that crosses through 14 states and stretches from coast to coast, which is something that has not happened in more than 99 years. Billed by many as the “Great American Eclipse,” this event will only make landfall on U.S. soil. This means eclipse enthusiasts from around the globe will journey here to take in the sight. Although the path of totality is almost 2,500 miles long, hotel rooms, campsites and other lodgings in that strip are being rapidly snapped up. If you are not one of the fortunate ones who already live in one of these lucky locales, secure your travel plans immediately! — Astronomer Tyler Nordgren in “Sun Moon Earth” Oregon has the honor of being the first state where the narrow path of totality makes landfall and begins its coast-to-coast journey across the lower 48. At Lincoln Beach, which NASA lists as the first point of contact, the Moon’s shadow will begin methodically consuming the brilliance of the morning Sun at around 9:05 a.m. PDT. Just before 10:16 a.m. PDT, the main event begins in this coastal locale as the Moon’s shadow engulfs the Sun for almost 2 minutes. Being right on the coast would put you among the first to see the eclipse, but there is increased risk of cloud coverage in the area so moving inland may be a better option. The thin path of totality stretches from one edge of Oregon to the other but the Moon’s shadow will take less than 12 minutes to traverse the state. One of the nation’s prime spots for viewing the eclipse is Madras, Ore., which lies east of the Cascade mountain range. Totality in Madras starts at 10:19 a.m. PDT and will last just over two minutes. One thing that makes Madras a standout is its strong potential for favorable weather. On his website eclipsophile.com, Canadian meteorologist and renowned eclipse chaser Jay Anderson notes satellite observations show “Madras and its surroundings have the distinction of possessing the least August cloudiness anywhere along the central line of the eclipse track.” Several multi-day celebrations will be happening in Madras for the eclipse, including the Oregon Solarfest and the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience. If you’re looking for a national park to observe from, the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in eastern Oregon lies within the centerline of totality. The park has no entrance fees, but large crowds are expected. Oregon cities on the centerline of the path of totality: Aumsville • Detroit • Falls City • Gates • Huntington • John Day Fossil Beds National Monument • Lincoln Beach • Lyons • Madras • Mehama • Mill City • Mitchell • Monmouth • Otter Rock • Prairie City • Stayton • Turner • Unity • Warm Springs event spotlight O