By Scott Oldfield
Smith Planetarium Director
VANDALIA – The last time any type of solar eclipse was visible from Ohio Bill Clinton was the President and the eclipse was only partial. The last total solar eclipse visible from the United States was in 1979 and only five northwestern states were able to see it. You have to go back 99 years for the last time a total solar eclipse saw the Moon’s shadow cut a path across the entire country, but on Monday August 21st, 2017 it’s going to happen again.
Starting at 10:16 a.m. Pacific Time witnesses at “Fishing Point” on the south side of Lincoln Beach, Oregon will be the first to glimpse Totality on U.S. soil in 38 years. Soon the shadow will be racing over the high desert of Madras, OR, predicted to have the best chance for a cloudless view.
As the shadow races southeast faster than the speed of sound it will traverse such unique locals as Grand Tetons National Park in WY, Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID, and “Car-henge” monument in Nebraska.
Great cities that fall under the 73 mile wide path include northern Kansas City and southern St. Louis, (yes, it makes a difference); while Nashville and Charleston will be lined up even better. Or, you could opt for little Hopkinsville, KY who boast the point of, “Greatest Eclipse”, although Carbondale, IL 90 miles away who has the title of, “Greatest Duration” enjoys a 0.1 second advantage (both 2 minutes 40 seconds of darkness).
So, whether you’re camping under the Moon’s umbral shadow in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, or catching it as it lifts off the continent at Buck Hall Recreation Area, SC (2:48 pm Eastern Time) be sure you don’t miss this roughly 2 minute and 30 second opportunity to witness the sublime and awe inspiring history that is totality. However, if you can’t get to the path you can still seek out some ISO-12312-2 certified eclipse glasses and try to spot the start of the partial eclipse at 1:01pm visible here in town. The maximum point for Dayton will occur at 2:28 p.m., but only 89% of the Sun will be obscured and even this will NOT be a time to safely look at the Sun without special equipment. By 3:52pm the event will be over in Dayton, where will YOU be?
To find out more about the eclipse, or anything else that’s “Up” feel free to call Scott Oldfield at the Vandalia-Butler Planetarium, Smith Middle School 241-6211, or visit in person. The planetarium presents a free show, open to the public the second Saturday of each month at 7 p.m.