On Monday, August 21, 2017 the continental United States is in for a treat: a total solar eclipse that slices right through the country. While pretty much all of the US will be able to see some portion of it, there’s a small slice of the country along a slender path from Oregon to North Carolina that will get to see the eclipse in totality, ie under a dark sky similar to full moon nights in the middle of the day.
To get a sense for how phenomenally rare this is, check out the Washington Post’s eclipse calculator. Type in your birth year and it calculates how many other eclipses there will be in your lifetime and where. If you’re like me, born in 1987, there will only be a few dozen eclipses left for me to catch and they’ll mostly be in Asia. That means that the most realistic (and inexpensive) way for me to catch an eclipse in most of our lifetimes is in August.
If you’re thinking this is too good to pass up (and it is), here’s a guide to a few of the best places to catch the show. Don’t forget that you’ll want to prepare for the event by figuring out exactly when it will occur in your time zone and getting proper eye protection. Safety first!
Solar Eclipse Festival, Oregon
From August 17 – 23rd there’s a full on festival taking place in Big Summit Prairie, OR. There’s camping, speakers, music and more which you can peruse on the event’s website. There are shuttles available to take you from Big Bend and Portland airports to the site you can sign up to volunteer for roughly 30 hours in exchange for the $400 ticket. If you want a spiritual-esque experience with a good dose of nature to accompany your solar eclipse, you’ll find it here.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to get to Grand Teton, here it is: The path of totality passes right over the park. As the park’s website puts it, “visitors can experience the moon’s shadow rushing toward them with the Teton Range backdrop.” Of course, this means that it’s going to be a busy day at the park, so you’ll want to plan ahead. Lodging is already snatched up, but camping is still first come, first serve on the day of the eclipse.
For those with a penchant for the urban, the eclipse is passing right through Music City! In addition to being able to take in the sights and sounds of Nashville over the weekend, there are a variety of eclipse viewing options to choose from on the big day. There are over 20 viewing events taking place including the Mayor’s Viewing Party at First Tennessee Park, Paddle Up is hosting an aquatic viewing session, and even one at the Grand Ole Opry itself.
Isle of Palms, North Carolina
Located just outside of Charleston, Isle of Palms, a family friendly beach spot that’s been a local and regional favorite for years, is also in the path of totality. All day on the 21st the city is hosting Get Eclipsed on IOP. There will be music and educational events as well as plenty of activities for the little ones. They’re encouraging visitors to make plans early, so get to it if you want to join them!
St. Louis, Missouri
Blues lovers rejoice—St. Louis is has a prime time seat for the 2017 eclipse… well, half of the city does, anyway. The path of totality slices right through the city, so make sure that you’ve got plans to be on the southwestern half of the city that day. The last solar eclipse that passed through St. Louis was in the 1400’s, so they’re really pulling out all the stops for this modern day repeat. The Perryville Solar Fest starts on the 19th and has public events leading up to and through the eclipse.