Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Great 21st Century USA Eclipse Bonanza

Nothing about woodpeckers here (thankfully)

I happened to check what might be coming up in the next few decades in solar eclipses in North America, and was extremely happy to discover that they are going to be one of the best times for USA Eclipse Watchers in all of history! The bonanza begins in less than 8 years, on August 21, 2017, with a total eclipse that transects the lower 48 from Oregon to South Carolina. My own little homestead lies just 60 miles outside of the path of totality for this event, meaning that my eclipse chase will be quite short, indeed. Favored US cities this time include Corvallis OR, Nashville, and Charleston SC. This would have been good enough news all by itself; but there's far more. Less than seven years later, on April 8, 2024, another (longer) eclipse barely catches the extreme northwest corner of Tennessee on its way from Dallas to Buffalo. I'll only be 56 and 62 years old on these two dates; so the odds are pretty good I'll get to see two total eclipses in the next 15 years within just a couple of hundred miles of home. In the last 48 years I've only managed to see two total eclipses, one of which was a 1500 mile international drive to reach.

After this, the flood continues. Before the end of the century, the moon's umbra will cross the eastern U.S. an incredible five more times! Budding young amateur astronomers who are in their teens and twenties now should count themselves unbelievably fortunate. Even us middle-aged sorts might have a shot at one or two more. On August 12, 2045 yet another totality tracks only a couple of hundred miles southwest of here; I'll be a little past my 83rd birthday then. And if I'm really lucky might be able to be on the gulf coast on March 30, 2052 for yet another encounter with the dragon at the fine age of 90.

I guess clean living is called for, huh?


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