Thursday, 6 August 2015

Pre-Eclipse 2017 Road Trip: Interstates and Eclipses

The total solar eclipse of 2017 will take place across the continental USA from Oregon to South Carolina. The narrow path, about 100 miles wide, will follow the Interstate Highway System in several locations. This affords eclipse chasers an opportunity to find a good observing location away from the weather.

Do note that to observe totality you need to be outside of the vehicle and inside the path of totality. A moving vehicle is not the place to watch from, even if it is a convertible with the top down. Long before totality hits you should be in position. Eclipse totality is best observed from a seated position with binoculars.

The shadow of the moon is moving over a thousand miles an hour, so give up any notion of "chasing" or driving at high speed to prolong the event. This is extremely dangerous and your car (or truck) will not go fast enough. To prolong totality you need to be moving at jet speeds and better.

So where can you set up (outside the car) along the expressway? Rest areas come to mind immediately. Every 30 or so miles you are likely to find a rest area. These seem ideal since most have facilities, solid tables, and plenty of parking. Just plan to be there early but do not be surprised if you are asked to move along by the state police. Rest areas are for those on the road, not for observing eclipses.

Lights may come on automatically in the darkness of totality
There is an additional concern with the use of rest areas. Automatic lighting is going to activate when totality takes place. It is as dark as a night under the full moon. The lights will come on unless previous arrangements have been made with the local authorities operating the facility.

A better alternative is to exit the expressway and use a parking lot. Since that would be private property, ask the proprietors first. You might even get access to facilities and power, and have them turn off any automatic lights for duration of the eclipse.

ROAD TRIP! In order to get a handle on the options, my wife and I opted to take a road trip from Ohio towards the West to see what there is in terms of expressway options in Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

I-70 west bound leaving Ohio into Indiana
...More random thoughts about TSE2017 to follow...

1 comment:

  1. Great initiative Bill. Looking forward to read more about your thoughts!