Friday, 23 September 2016

Less than 11 months until the next TSE

Years ago it seemed like a far off thought. To see a total solar eclipse in the USA! Wow!

I have been to Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceana, on cruise ships, at road side rests, camp sites, hotel parking lots, and yes - even in a jet aircraft - and yet, the only USA solar eclipse I've ever seen that was almost total was in 1984. It was just about total, meaning that it was an annular from where I saw it. A very short annular as I remember it.

The 1970 eclipse fell on the same weekend as a rather large swimming competition and it was missed. I did see the partial phases, standing outside in the Ohio March weather in a Speedo, and got in trouble for my efforts. My first total solar eclipse was in 1972, so it was not too devastating at the time - just in retrospect. And at the next astronomy club meeting I heard the details from others who had driven to the eastern USA to see the total eclipse. They were excited. They were planning how to see the next one in 1972. I talked my father into joining. It wasn't hard, he was enthralled as well.

So here we are. Just 11 more months to wait until the total solar eclipse of August 2017! I am really excited about it. And I am not the only one. There are plenty of people planning to see it. So many that hotels and campsites are becoming harder to get. Costs are going up up up on some of the remaining stock. So should you panic and buy in?

Here's the situation. Many of the hotels have commitments from travel groups who have requested a lot of rooms. They want to sell you the rooms at a higher price and make money as the proverbial middle man. If you are just starting to search out a place to stay now, you are in for a ride in some places. The best thing to do now is wait until about a month or two before the event and then call every hotel looking for recently released group space at normal (maybe) pricing.

Some are looking outside the path with plans to drive in that day. While that may work very well, it is a bit of a gamble in my mind. Roads could get closed or blocked by traffic. Like minded people might fill it up like rush hour into a big city. Plan lots of time for the commute.

Just 11 more months. The anticipation is building up faster than any other solar eclipse I have done. Maybe it is the prospect of so many old and new friends finally seeing what I have been chasing for decades. We can just hope beyond hopes that the sky is clear all day across the USA that day!

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