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A total solar eclipse is coming to Idaho!

By John Alder

In less than three years Idaho will play host to a total eclipse of the sun, the first to touch Idaho since 1979. The eclipse will occur on Monday August 21, 2017. It will begin at sunrise way out in the North Pacific Ocean about halfway between Alaska and Hawaii It will proceed eastward over the ocean until it makes landfall on the Oregon coast at about 10:15AM local time. It will then sweep clear across the continental US exiting South Carolina at about 2:45PM local time. It will then proceed over the Atlantic Ocean until sunset when it will be close to the west coast of Africa. The seven states substantially impacted by the path of totality are Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tenness & South Carolina. Small pieces of 5 more states will also be crossed by the path these are Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia & North Carolina. The point of greatest eclipse, that is where the period of totality lasts the longest, will occur near Hopkinsville in western Kentucky where totality will last about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The largest city completely in the pathof the totality will be Nashville. Kansas City and St. Louis are partially in the path. It barely misses some other large cities including Portland, OR Omaha NE and Knoxville & Chattanooga TN. This eclipse will be unusual in that the continental US will be the only land it will touch. It will be the first one to pass across the continental US since 1918.

Here in Idaho the eclipse will come across the snake river from Oregon (Baker City and Ontario are in the path) and sweep across central Idaho, just barely missing Boise. Emmett will be at the southern edge of totality so the total eclipse can be seen in Horseshoe Bend. Along Highway 55 communities closer to the center of totality will include Smith's Ferry & Crouch/Garden Valley. Farther north Cascade and Donnelly will be in the path but McCall is just barely too far north. While over the Salmon River mountains the center of the totality path will pass close to Stanley and the Sawtooth Mountains and farther east Mount Borah, Idaho's highest peak. Sun Valley will be in the path but closer to the edge than the center. When it enters eastern Idaho it will miss Pocatello but Idaho Falls and Rexburg will be in the path before it passes into Wyoming and over the Grand Tetons. While in Idaho the eclipse will occur between 11AM & noon local time.

Boise has a history of solar eclipse totality paths missing it. The 1918 eclipse which occurred on June 8 was slightly more northwest to southeast than the the upcoming 2017 eclipse. It entered thru Washington and exited thru Florida and also barely missed Boise as did 2 other eclipses on April 28, 1930 and July 9, 1945. The 1945 eclipse in fact began just north of Boise near Cascade and went clear across the globe before ending in central Asia. The eclipse of February 26, 1979 occurred farther north in the southern panhandle so that Lewiston and Moscow saw that one.

I have been trying to raise awareness of the eclipse with my new website celebratetheeclipse.com. It features information and gear related to eclipse. The gear is T-shirts and posters promoting the eclipse with designs for each state in the path. I created the designs using a graphic design program paint.net which is a free download. I had a local T-shirt printing company enhance the design and had 100 T-shirts with the Idaho design run off.

The next eclipse after 2017 impacting the continental US will occur on April 8, 2024. It will come up from Mexico and go across the the eastern midwest, Lakes Erie and Ontario and then over northern New England before pasing over the Canadian Maritimes. The next one after 2017 to go clear across the continental US will occur on August 12, 2045. It will be farther south  than the 2017 eclipse entering thru norther California and exiting thru Florida. With that one totality will last up to 6 minutes near the center. Total eclipses of the sun or rare events for any particular location and for many people will be a once in a lifetime event. It's the only time the sky gets dark in the middle of the day and the brilliant corona surrounding the sun appears!