Where will you be on August 21?

August 21, 2017 is the day a total solar eclipse will cross the entire contiguous United States — “from sea to shining sea”, as it were.  The path of totality enters the continent in the state of Oregon, proceeds through Idaho and Wyoming, then starts moving more southward as it passes through Nebraska, the northeast corner of Kansas and a smidgeon of southwestern Iowa, crosses Missouri and the southern tip of Illinois, then bisects Kentucky and Tennesee, straddles the North Carolina/Georgia border, then crosses South Carolina to exit into the Atlantic Ocean.  It will touch no other land, not even any islands.

So, where will you be on August 21?  There a couple of resources that can help you plan.  Xavier Jubier’s interactive Google map will give you times and percent coverage for anywhere, which can be useful if you’re not planning on traveling but still want to see the partial eclipse.  All fifty states will be able to see at least a partial eclipse (though alas, the westernmost Pacific territories, such as Guam and American Samoa, will not be able to see it), as well as all of Canada, Mexico, Central America, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the northern part of South America (down as far as northern Peru and Brazil), the north-easternmost tip of Russia, Iceland, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, and part of Norway.

But if you’re hoping to see totality, you seriously need to plan it now.  Ideally, you need to have planned it about a year ago, especially if have your heart set on a hotel room, but there’s still some time, especially if you’re planning to day-trip it or are deciding which relatives to visit.  But the biggest factor (apart from accomodations) is the weather.  And how can you know where it’s not going to be cloudy?  Well, the short answer is you can’t.  But the long answer is to try and pick somewhere that is statistically likely to be sunny on August 21. Today’s APOD can help.  This map, generated from MODIS data over many years, gives the historical statistical likelihood of clouds on August 21.  Blue is better odds of clear skies; red is worse.  So in general, go west, young man, go west!



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