Take it from eclipse chaser Dr. Jim Little Jr. whose dad started traveling to view total solar eclipses in the 1980s and took him along for the ride. He has never seen a full eclipse in the United States where millions of people are expected to travel and gas and food shortages are predicted. But he’s pretty excited.
“Take deep breaths people, it will be okay,” he says.
The chances of seeing a total eclipse from your backyard are pretty slim, according to Pat and Fred Espenak’s “Get Eclipsed” guide. “On average, a total eclipse is visible from any one given spot on earth about once every 375 years.”
Little Jr. has seen seven eclipses in places as far flung as Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole. He got hooked after he saw a partial eclipse in 1979 in Boulder, Colorado. That was the last time the path of totality – a 70 mile wide path that will run diagonally from Charleston, SC to Salem, Oregon – crossed the US.
“Svalbard was probably the most amazing eclipses I’ve seen because it is one of the closest places you can get to the North Pole, he said. “With snow and ice all around, the shadow bands were really clear against the white landscape.”
Little Jr. and his family have been anticipating Aug. 21, 2017 when the full solar eclipse will be visible in Jackson Hole for 20 years. “Most people who chase eclipses planned this a decade and a half ago.” The shadows that the full solar eclipse will cast on the path of totality in the Tetons will thrilling, he says. “Most people get really excited. Some laugh or cry, hoot and holler. It is like nothing they’ve ever seen.”
For his son Zackary, 15, who will be working in Grand Teton National Park for Exum Guides, this will be his 2nd total eclipse. His first was in China when he was 7 or 8 years old.
“I feel really lucky that I was able to see one and that one is coming to Jackson,” he says. “It’s really kind of surreal, all the stars come out, the temperature drops like 10 degrees and all the animals start freaking out. One of the really cool things you can see that shadow approaching and really race across the land 1700 miles an hour.” Go to the Wyoming Stargazing website for more facts on the eclipse and a list of fun things to do.
Don’t waste your time trying to photograph the total solar eclipse. Someone will always get a better photograph than you. A wide angle shot of people’s reactions is often the best photograph to take.
Don’t drive. The eclipse is in the sky so it will be just as visible from home than it would be anywhere. It is nice to get up a little higher but anyone from Moran Junction to Hoback is going to have a great experience.
Look at the spaces in between. There will be shadows in between leaves and in other places in nature that will amaze you.
If you want a fun experiment, get a white sheet and hold up a colander next to it to amplify the shadows. You may see 100 round circles and 100 eclipses.
Enjoy the Moment. Totality will only last 2 minutes from 11:35-11:37.
Wear quality glass for hour so of the partial eclipse leading up to totality and afterward. The partial eclipse isn’t that different from 20%-80% and many people will take a glance, but if you look directly at it, it can damage your eyes.