Did you know that every 18 months a total solar eclipse is visible from somewhere on Earth? Unless you’re a jetsetter bent on traveling the world following the phenomena wherever it appears, it’s a rare occurrence. On the morning of August 21, 2017, the path of a total solar eclipse will pass over the Northwest, specifically over a swath of Oregon and Idaho. If you live underneath that path, the eclipse will come to you. If not, you should cobble together your travel plans now.
Pick Your Destination
A total solar eclipse warrants a special celebration. And why not? Day will become night for a minute of two. So, before it’s too late, pick your viewing destination. Make a vacation out of it and plan to stay a few days or even longer, if you can. It’s best to catch the eclipse directly beneath what is called “the path of totality.” Outside that path, you’ll view the next best thing: a partial eclipse.
Once you’ve picked your destination, figure out where you’re going to bed down. Book one of the last remaining hotel rooms (if you can find one), reserve a campsite or lay claim to someone’s couch. Don’t be surprised if lodging is scarce and prices are high.
Be prepared for the company of lots of fellow eclipse fans. Camaraderie is a good thing, long lines are not, so bring patience and plan on things taking a little extra time.
Have the Right Eyewear
If your mother told you never to look directly into the sun, she was right. That goes for an eclipse of the sun too. Never—I repeat, never! —look at a solar eclipse with the naked eye. It can cause serious and permanent vision damage.
If you are within the eclipse’s path of totality, you will need special eye protection to view the partial phases before and after the total eclipse. During the total eclipse (total blackout), you can remove the eyewear, but put it back on when the first glimmer of sun appears.
If you are outside the path of totality, you will only see a partial eclipse. Wearing special eye protection through the duration of the partial eclipse is a must.
You can order certified eclipse glasses online for a nominal price. An internet search will provide sources, or you can order through eclipse2017.org/glasses_order. htm. Be sure to follow the instructions that come with the glasses. Sunglasses are not a substitute for eclipse eye protection.
Prepare to Be Amazed!
Little is known about ancient man’s reaction to the momentary disappearance of the sun. Whether the phenomenon was cloaked in terror or one that ancient astronomers reliably predicted, you can be sure they were as amazed by the sight as we are today. Let your reaction run wild. Cheer. Clap. Hug the nearest person. Feel the thrill of the moment. After all, that’s why you’re there.
A note of caution: This is an event you’ll always remember, but leave your smartphone in your pocket and your camera in your car. Unless you are a pro photographer with the proper solar filters for your lens, your photos will reveal nothing, and your flash in the moments of darkness will cause a riot. Do not attempt to photograph or video the solar eclipse.
Viewing destinations in the path of totality
Oregon Coast: The path of totality spans from Pacific City in the north to Waldport in the south. Other cities in this path include Lincoln City, Depoe Bay and Newport. The center line of the path runs between Lincoln Beach and Depoe Bay. Vacation tip: Eclipse and whale watching.
Willamette Valley, Oregon: The path of totality spans from McMinnville and Woodburn in the north to Brownsville in the south. Other cities in this path include Silverton, Salem, Albany and Corvallis. The center line of the path runs between Salem and Albany. Vacation tip: Eclipse and wine tasting.
Eastern Oregon: The path of totality spans from just north of Baker City in the north to Ontario in the south. Other cities in this path include Mitchell and John Day. The center line of the path runs between Mitchell in the west to the Snake River on the Oregon-Idaho border. Vacation tip: Eclipse and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
Western-Central Idaho: The path of totality spans from Council and Donnelly in the north to Idaho City and Sun Valley in the south. Other cities in this path include Cascade, Smith’s Ferry, Stanley and Ketchum. Stanley and Smith’s Ferry are the closest cities to the center line of the path. Vacation tip: Eclipse and the phenomenal hiking near Stanley.
Central-Eastern Idaho: The path of totality spans from near Ashton and Dubois in the north to Idaho Falls in the south. Other cities in this path include Rexburg, Driggs and Victor, which are all near the center line of the path. Vacation tip: Eclipse and a road trip through the scenic Teton Valley.