Thursday, March 31, 2011

Total Eclipse of the Sun

"North Platte? You must be really excited for 2017." Such was the opening line of a science teacher from Winnipeg who approached our Nebraska booth at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon.

Unless he was another doomsday prophesier the only thing I could think of is Nebraska's Sesquicentennial which I believe happens in 2017. But no...

"North Platte Nebraska is going to be just about the best place in the world to see the total eclipse of the sun in 2017," was his reply. News to me and my other Nebraska booth-mates.

It turns out he is right. August 21, 2017 to be exact.


According to the website Eclipse2017.org:
NEBRASKA
The eclipse path really shines in this great midwestern state, cutting across endless miles of prairie, lots of good-sized cities, and one more state capitol! Take a long lunch hour, and see an eclipse! Alliance (2m30s at 11:49am) and Scottsbluff (1m43s at 11:48am) are the first larger cities to see the shadow, and North Platte (1m40s at 12:54pm CDT) hugs the southern edge. Folks there should hop up US83 to Stapleton, to get more than two and a half minutes!

Moving east, the shadow engulfs Hastings at 12:58pm (for 2m13s of totality), but Grand Island (22 more seconds!) is an even better place to be!

Omaha is not in the path! Get down to Lincoln, or better yet, farther south toward Beatrice (2m35s at 1:02pm), for a better show! Speaking of Lincoln, this second capitol city in the path lies near its northern edge, so totality is shorter there - only 1m 25.5s (at 1:02pm) on the grounds of the beautiful State Capitol. The 50-yard-line at Husker stadium gets five seconds less time in the shadow, so you can see how important it is to get as far south as you can!

To give you an even better idea of how important your location is when you're this near the edge, you need look no further than the airport at Lincoln: Planes waiting to take off on the departure end of runway 17 (at the north end of the runway) will get only 1m7s of totality, while those at the south end of the runway (if traffic is departing on 35 that day) will get 18s more!!! Don't laugh - when you see the beauty of the eclipse, you will wish like anything that you had eighteen more seconds to see this most glorious sight!

The shadow leaves the capitol, and the centerline then passes over Falls City at 1:04pm. The path's great trek through the Cornhusker State, after having traveled its entire length in only eight minutes(!), will be over at 1:07:50pm.
While North Platte is in a good position to see a lot of the eclipse (a minute and forty seconds), the "umbral shadow" will make almost a direct hit on Tryon and Stapleton (visible for nearly two and a half minutes). You can't get more smack-dab in the middle of the outback than Tryon Nebraska. What could be better than seeing a total eclipse of the sun, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, in a place with almost NO light pollution? If stargazing in the Nebraska Sandhills is so wonderful, and it is, then this is absolutely the place to be to watch a total eclipse.

So what are you waiting for? August 21, 2017 is fast approaching, so you better start making your plans now. Know anybody in the Nebraska Outback who could hook you up with a Sandhills rancher to view the eclipse from the solitude of a pasture? And arrange comfortable lodging in a town just 30 or so miles away boasting 1500 sleeping rooms? I think you do. The only thing I won't be able to arrange is a clear, cloudless day, but in August, we have a pretty good chance.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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