Having never witnessed a total solar eclipse, we can only imagine the incredulous phenomenon as it has been described to us by scientists and astronomers alike.
On August 21, 2017, those within the “path of totality” as it is referred to will have a once in a life time opportunity to experience darkness during “daylight hours.” According to NASA, “This celestial event is a solar eclipse in which the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, as viewed from a given location. For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds.”
So we travelled from New York to Ketchum, Idaho in order to view this phenomenon. (In truth, we were planning on spending 10 days in Ketchum anyway before we heard about the Eclipse as it is our favorite spot on earth all year around). The town is abuzz with visitors and locals all anticipating the great event. Souvenir shops are replete with Solar Eclipse hats, shirts, shot glasses and posters to name a few. Local businesses will be closed (at least during the 2 expected hours of darkness); gas prices have sky rocketed in the days preceding the eclipse as fear of some sort of apocalyptic event has imaginations running wild. Then there’s the expected stress on the power grid expected to occur as a result of the lack sunlight as well as on cell phone service. Fearmongering aside, we are looking forward to the awesome sight we have been promised. We purchased our special ISO compliant eclipse glasses and have our cameras and drone charged!
According to the American Astronomical Society, “The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight. See [their] Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products.”
The state of Idaho alone is expecting 500,000 visitors just as a result of this event. In Twin Falls, Idaho, usually flashing traffic lights are expected to be adjusted to accommodate the influx of tourists. There will be viewing parties aplenty and although the chairlift tickets in Sun Valley are all sold out (and have been for quite some time), many are expected to hike thousands of feet to the top of Bald Mountain for optimal viewing. For NASA’s safe viewing instructions visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety .