Total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 - predictions

Discussion in 'Sky photography' started by Dan Robinson, Aug 13, 2015.

  1. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    We're getting to just two years away from this monumental event. Here is the path of totality:

    http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/TSE_2017_GoogleMapFull.html

    Even though I live only 6 miles from the path of totality, it got me wondering just how popular this event might be and how difficult it could be to plan and execute being there for it. Despite the eclipse having a swath crossing the entire USA coast-to-coast through very remote areas, I'm wondering if this event will attract enough people to clog even the most remote of rural roads.

    For instance, here in southern Illinois, you might have a significant part of the Chicago, St. Louis, Quad Cities, Springfield and Memphis metros all converging in rural areas from mid-Missouri to western Kentucky. It's mind-boggling to think of what that would look like - endless severe chaser convergence-like conditions for hundreds of miles?

    Then again, I don't know how much the general public cares about this event. I would assume it will be a lot, and I'd assume that due to the internet, far more people will know it's coming than in 1979. It's the first time for anyone alive today that a total solar eclipse has been easily accessible to the entire US population, and the first in the US since the 1979 one in the extreme northwest corner of the country.

    Then there is the issue if clouds suddenly move in or are forecast in the 24 hours beforehand, causing everyone to try moving hundreds of miles at the last minute.

    Will this event be a logistical nightmare, a May 19, 2010 on every single back road, or a quiet, serene one like watching a supercell in western Nebraska in July?
     
  2. MClarkson

    MClarkson EF5

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    I don't think there will be huge traffic problems in most places. For the annular eclipse of 2012, I went to a viewpoint on the rim of the grand canyon in the exact middle of the path. Yes, there were a lot of other people there (with the most amazing concentration of expensive lenses and telescopes!) but it was not remotely close to the ability of even that simple road network to handle. 2 things I think work against traffic problems: 1) the average citizen is hopelessly ignorant and uncaring of such things, and 2) an incredibly wide swath of potential "target areas" exist, when you have the entire country to choose from. No one needs to concentrate on a single point like a tornado.
     
  3. Elaine Spencer

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    For the annular eclipse of 2012, I went to a viewpoint on the rim of the grand canyon in the exact middle of the path....it was not remotely close to the ability of even that simple road network to handle.

    An annular eclipse doesn't come close to a total eclipse in terms of spectacle, for lack of a better word. Here is a succinct explanation of the difference by a veteran eclipse chaser:

    http://www.beingintheshadow.com/2013/05/07/annular-versus-total-solar-eclipse/

    As she describes it, if you rate the intensity of the experience on a scale of 0 to 10, a partial eclipse rates about 4, an annular 9, and a total 100. Other eclipse experts describe the difference as being like almost dying vs. actually dying, or holding hands vs.... you know. Also, an annular eclipse can't be viewed with the naked eye -- you still need special filters to look at it -- whereas full totality can be viewed with the naked eye, and those who have seen it say it's probably THE most awesome sight in the natural world.

    So I dunno that the turnout for an annular eclipse is necessarily predictive of the turnout for a total eclipse. Astronomy buffs and eclipse chasers who wouldn't bother with an annular eclipse WILL turn out for this one. Not to mention that it's happening in the summer rather than in the winter like the total eclipses of 1970 and 1979 did.

    As for where the greatest eclipse chaser convergence might happen, I would think it might occur in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming or the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, or along the Oregon or S. Carolina coasts because those are the most scenic/photogenic places to see it. However, significant convergence is also likely where the duration of totality is at its greatest, and that includes the areas Dan described. Anywhere along the centerline between, roughly, KC and Nashville you can expect at least 2 min 40+ secs of totality. In addition, there is a small patch of southern IL, southeast MO and western KY that will be in the path of ANOTHER total eclipse in 2024; some eclipse chasers will be drawn to that area because they plan on coming back in 7 years and being able to boast that they saw TWO total eclipses from the same spot:

    http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/overlap.htm

    How much of the general public turns out will probably depend on the amount of advance publicity and preparation done in communities/states along the path. Some have suggested that states along the path declare Eclipse Day a one-time state holiday (I personally agree).
     
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  4. NealRasmussen

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    Two years?

    Will there even be roads left in 2 years? Really nice County Commissioner swimming pools, but roads? IDK...
     
  5. Scott Howard

    Scott Howard Lurker

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    eclipse2017.org
    Like you I've also been thinking of this event. Living in Southeast central iowa it's an easy drive. But it's the weather potential and how long a drive it could end up being.
     
  6. Greg Campbell

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    I'm thinking eastern Wyoming or western Nebraska will offer the best combination of low crowds and, with few mountains nearby, clear skies. The area around Grant Teton NP and Jackson, Wyo is guaranteed to be an utter zoo. The valley north or Weiser Idaho, not far from the Oregon border, also looks like a reasonable place to try.
     
  7. Greg Campbell

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  8. Stan Rose

    Stan Rose EF4

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    Ive already planned this down to the foot with GE. I have two potential spots, plus some back ups. Ultimately, cloud free conditions will determine where I go. One of the fringe benefits of being a meteorologist. :)
     
  9. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Nebraska is my backup plan if models show the Midwest in a NW flow/ring of fire regime, with daily MCSs plowing southeast from Iowa. Otherwise, the odds of a solid cloud deck at midday here in August are pretty low. If I have to use that Plan B, I'm preparing for it being like a hurricane chase - sleeping in the car and being self-sufficient with food, water and extra gas to get me in and out of the totality path. Even with a lower-end pilgrimage, I'd imagine some places - especially in the more rural areas - will underestimate the numbers and be ill-prepared without enough food and fuel.
     
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  10. Patrick Martin

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    I've got a couple of locations mapped out for the day, but safe to say that ern Wy or wrn NE is where I plan to be as it will be a cinch of an out and back drive.
     
  11. Marc R. O'Leary

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    I was at Carhenge in Alliance NE yesterday and they anticipate over 10k people. If I go out, it'll be trying to find as bfe a location as possible.
     
  12. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Yeah, every experienced eclipse observer I've read so far says to not worry about photography, just take in the experience. I'm heeding that advice and not caring one bit about picking somewhere with a cool foreground to get good photos. It's too short of a duration event to be fiddling with equipment, and with the number of people shooting this, any images one captures will be even that much more worthless.
     
  13. Stan Rose

    Stan Rose EF4

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    Well, if you have a photography business, that's what you do, you worry about photography ;) A small part of me is envious of your resolve to simply enjoy, but I think I can have the best of both worlds; totality won't be over in seconds so there will be time to do a little fiddling, and if you are set up beforehand and have thoroughly scouted everything, i think the gear worry will be minimal. As for the cool foreground, well that's obviously key for the photo cause as you pointed out, there will be 100,000,000+ photos/video of the eclipse, but experience with these type of events tells me that there will only be 100s that are marketable. And while the supply will be great, the demand for the best images will be equally great, so I disagree with the 'worthless' assessment--the top 10 or so images are going to be HUGE income-producers. If you're a landscape photographer, this is a holy grail opportunity. It's no different than catching an EF-5 with a couple rainbows, lightning, and maybe a cow or unicorn thrown in to boot. It's the moment chasers, whether they be storm chasers or chasers of great light, live for. And personally, putting in myself in a spot with a good foreground is just going to enhance the personal experience for me. I'd rather be watching the eclipse from a primo location than from some dinky farm in Beatrice, NE...but that's just me. If i have to crawl over a bunch of tourists to get there, so be it! :)
     
  14. Stan Rose

    Stan Rose EF4

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    Here's your view from outside Beatrice...exciting, aint it? :D
    GENebraska.jpg
     
  15. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I don't know - after my experiences with hard work and expense in trying to monetize still photography over the years of an internationally-famous national landmark, I have little hopes for what the eclipse will bring. It'll quite literally be like playing the lottery to be one of the few who get successful images. Plus, they'll just be stolen an posted to other social media accounts anyway unless our copyright laws get reformed before then.

    I'll probably set up some video cameras which can roll unattended, but not much else.
     
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  16. Jeremy Perez

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    I've been wondering about how successful I would be getting landscape photography that includes the eclipse. In the Wyoming segment, the eclipse will occur around 49 to 54 degrees altitude. I'd think that would favor wide-angle ambiance shots where the eclipse/corona are pretty minisculeā€”unless one sets up really close to a steep ridge/cliffside and zooms in for a treeline combo or similar.
     
  17. Stan Rose

    Stan Rose EF4

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    Good points, Jeremy, but you are not just limited to close up trees and cliffs--if you are far enough from your subject you can fit an entire mountain range in your zoomed-in shot. At 50 degrees, that may require you being a bit down from your subject, but, hey--if this were easy than everyone would be doing it, it's not easy and requires some planning.
     
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  18. Verne Carlson

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    I had in mind Carhenge in Alliance NE but with 10k people anticipated there I might have to look for somewhere else!
     
  19. Elaine Spencer

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    FWIW, here's the most recent visible satellite picture for the central US:

    http://www.spc.noaa.gov/exper/mesoanalysis/new/viewsector.php?sector=14#

    Now, this is from 2000Z, whereas the peak of totality on Eclipse Day will occur roughly between 1730Z and 1830Z (12:30 to 1:30 p.m. CDT, if my math is correct) in the path in the areas pictured. But it might give you an idea of what conditions MIGHT be like on this date 2 years from now.
     
  20. Ben Holcomb

    Ben Holcomb Digital Janitor
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    Digging this back up. I've talked about this event with JR Hehnly for a few years now and we've decided it's going to be pretty impossible to get a 'good' shot with a decent foreground when the sun is so high in the sky. So really a cloudless area is going to be the best.
     
  21. Tim Paitz

    Tim Paitz EF2

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    It's almost always cloudy during these eclipses anyway it seems. Remember the latest lunar eclipse? I was lucky to even see it through the clouds. :/
     
  22. Rick Schmidt

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    Remember, this will be in mid-August...in the middle of the day. The average day in August around eastern Ks. is clear....maybe some scattered clouds. The sun will be nearly overhead. I am confident that it won't be overcast.(going by averages).
     
  23. kevin-palmer

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    You just have to be willing to drive away from the clouds. That's why I don't like to make concrete plans for events like this. For the lunar eclipse 2 weeks ago it was cloudy at home but by driving 2 hours I found partially clear skies. I'm sure the majority of those in the eclipse path will have clear skies in mid-August though.
     
  24. Todd Rector

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    For me in Central Iowa, it seems obvious to get a hotel room in St. Joseph MO the night before, and shoot from the Waffle House (or anywhere else) parking lot the day of the event. Like others have noted, if the weather doesn't cooperate, anyone serious about viewing the eclipse should be prepared to drive up to several hundred miles to find a clear spot. If I had to guess, I would say the problem for most of us won't be finding a place to view, it will be finding an 800mm lens to rent.
     
  25. Clarence Bennett

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    Aside from the length of the total eclipse, is there any advantage to being right in the center of the path? I am a 15 minute drive to dead center from my house and less than 10 minutes to dead center from my parents...Glad I live in Nashville.
     

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