I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.

Not knowing much about eclipses–much less solar eclipses–I had to dig into some research for this article.  Up to speed, I’m now coordinating where to go on August 21, 2017.  Which is a big deal; I’m not that much of a planner.

If you’re at all interested in celestial events, you’re shaking your head right now and rolling your eyes at my ignorance.  Because that date has been marked on your calendar, circled in red, and road trip mapped well in advance.  For the rest of us mere mortals, let me inform you why this event is a big deal—especially if you live in Idaho.

August 2017 calendar with August 21st circled in red
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for this epic event!

A total solar eclipse is not to be confused with a lunar eclipse or partial eclipse. It is far more uncommon.  It occurs when the earth, moon, and sun line up perfectly to block the sun from view in the middle of the day. Daytime becomes nighttime for just a few moments.

There are two reasons this eclipse is a big deal if you live in Idaho.  The first (and most obvious) reason is because the path of totality – the narrow path where the sun is seen completely eclipsed by the moon — goes straight through the middle of the state.  The second is that Idaho is being touted as an amazing viewing location due to its consistently good weather. You can’t see a cosmic sun/moon/earth alignment if it’s blocked by a rainy day.

Map of Idaho showing the band of totality stretching across the state from East to West.
Plan your eclipse vacation within the band of totality. Photo Credit: eclipse2017.org

And Idaho being touted as a good viewing location is a BIG deal.  Thousands of people travel (from all over the world) to view total solar eclipses. Seriously.

Experts are estimating that there will be an extra 10-20,000 people per community in our state.  Any entrepreneurs out there?  Consider the possibilities.

Because of this high-demand, we’re stressing the importance of making plans early, and encouraging day-trippers to change their plans and stay in one place for a day or so afterwards.  Authorities are anticipating major traffic congestion on eclipse day as people drive up from the south and down from the north to see it.  That uncle with land in Stanley?  Now would be a good time to call and see if you can crash for a few days.  Lodging in Idaho Falls, Victor, Driggs, and Stanley are reportedly already booked. Here are two links that outline the best places to view the eclipse in Idaho to help get you started on travel plans: http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/states/ID.htm and https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/idaho/.

This stud of an astronomical event will make its debut on August 21, 2017.  Starting at the western edge of Idaho at approximately 11:25am and concluding totality in Idaho at the Idaho/Wyoming border at approximately 11:36am. For exact times and locations, refer to Xavier Jubier’s map in our resources section below. Each position along the path will experience only about one to two minutes of total eclipse time.  I know this may seem like a very short amount of viewing time to justify driving a few hours (let alone flying from another country!), but to quote Eclipse2017.org, it is a “jaw-dropping, knee-buckling, emotionally-overloading, completely overwhelming spectacle.”  And in case you still aren’t convinced, I’ll refer you back to my thousands of visitors estimate above.

This eclipse is especially noteworthy because it will only span the continental U.S. and nowhere else. Being referred to as “The Great American Eclipse,” visitors worldwide are booking their flights to the U.S. in anticipation.  Starting at the Oregon coastline, it will cross over the U.S. until it reaches South Carolina’s coastline and disappears out to sea. We hope it grabs some shrimp and grits on its way out.

Google Map showing the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 eclipse over America
Xavier Jubiers Google Map of the August 21, 2017 Eclipse.

We’ll be keeping you updated over the next few months on lodging availability, viewing locations, and information to make sure your viewing experience of this spectacular event goes as smoothly as possible. If you can’t make it to Idaho, we hope you make it somewhere along the path of totality to see this once in a lifetime event.

Important things to know:

YOU CANNOT LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT SPECIAL GLASSES.  We’re not kidding. You will go blind, and yes, we are required to tell you that.  Buy these fancy eye specs: http://www.eclipse2017.org/glasses_order.htm, or find some like them to ensure that you can see the main event and still retain your eyesight.  Rumor has it these guys sell out fast.  We’ve been advised to try and stock up before the end of June.

hand holding pair of eclipse glasses up to the sun.
Eclipse glasses needed for viewing total solar eclipse. Photo credit: www.eclipse2017.org

RESOURCES

To see information specific to cities and counties in Idaho, go to www.visitidaho.org/eclipse.

For helpful community planning documents, go to commerce.idaho.gov/eclipse.

To see where the path of totality will be, as well as start and end times, go to this extremely detailed map courtesy of Xavier  Jubier: http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/TSE_2017_GoogleMapFull.html. *

Don’t forget the importance of weather.  You don’t want the sun blocked by a cloudy day.  Here’s a great list of weather apps to get you started if you aren’t already committed to one.

For even more goodies, head over to NASA and click around on their 2017 Eclipse site.

*If referencing the map by Xavier, make sure to take into consideration that times are notated by UT (universal time) and you’ll need to subtract six hours from the displayed time to get Mountain Daylight Time.

Feature image eclipse photo courtesy of Miloslav DRUCKMÜLLER.