With interest rapidly building for the upcoming total solar eclipse in the USA on August 21, 2017, I became curious about the rarity of total eclipses in America. If you miss the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 – first such eclipse in contiguous U.S. since 1979 – you’ll have to wait until 2024 to see the next one. (Oh, and don’t forget about this weekend’s Perseid Meteor Shower!)


So just why should you get your special solar eclipse viewing glasses ready? Well, if you’re into rare things to do and see …  If we only count total eclipses visible from the lower 48 states, we have 4 eclipses from 1951 to 2000, and 4 more from 2001 to 2050. Put another way, there are 8 chances to view a total eclipse from the USA in the period spanning just over a single lifetime. And that’s not even considering the fact that cloudy weather will likely hide half of them from view! Rare events indeed! And one more argument not to miss the Great American Total Eclipse of 2017.


In 1970, the path of totality crossed the southeastern USA and included portions of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Nantucket. Another total eclipse was visible in the USA from the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota) on February 26, 1979. Although a total eclipse was seen on the Big Island of Hawaii on July 11, 1991, no other total eclipse is visible from the lower 48 states of the USA between 1979 and 2017 – a lapse of over 38 years!

There’s a map at http://earthsky.org/space/total-solar-eclipses-in-the-usa that shows the path of all total (and annular) eclipses through the continental USA during the last 50 years of the 20th century. Besides the 1970 and 1979 eclipses, the only other USA total eclipses during the last 50 years of the 20th century were on July 20, 1963(Alaska and Maine) and June 30, 1954 (Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan).

The excitement is brewing around here in Wyoming for August 21st since apparently viewing the rare Solar Eclipse is supposed to be ideal around this area. Especially in nearby Casper, which is right in the path and will experience a 2-3 minute total eclipse.  I do love a wide open sky and thus part of my love of the West in general. Lisa and I have had our Solar Viewers handy for some time !   Making sure I check the safety instruction and ISO #’s on our glasses after hearing a show on NPR about the dangers of NOT having proper protection !  So if you’re planning to view … check out some details about safety and damage that you could do to your eyes if not following proper safety.  Here’s a good link:  https://www.space.com/33797-total-solar-eclipse-2017-guide.html

The upcoming eclipse reminds me of one of the most incredible films that Lisa and I saw a couple of years ago in Knoxville. It was one of the winning films in the Banff Film Festival World Tour of Outdoor/ Adventure related films …  it was simply called “Eclipse.”  Well worth the 30 minutes to watch this film.  http://tv.salomon.com/story/eclipse#overlay.  Makes our putting on our solar glasses and looking up appear WAY too easy !!

Oh, hey, just in case you miss this one on Aug. 21st, post this on your frigidaire !

Looking beyond 2017, the next total eclipse through the USA is on April 8, 2024 and crosses 13 states (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). The total eclipse of August 23, 2044 crosses Montana and North Dakota. It is followed one year later by the total eclipse of August 12, 2045 which also crosses 13 states (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida). Although a total eclipse occurs on March 30, 2033 it is only visible from northern Alaska.


Cheers from Sunny (and not so Sunny on Aug. 21st!) Wyoming –


the Scruffy Science Nerds


p.s. Here are a couple of articles that one of Lisa’s 93 year old patients gave her at work today … He’s been around to know a lot about solar eclipses!  So for all of you astronomy buffs out there, here’s a little something extra for ya !  www.astronomy.com / “Get Ready for E-Day: The actions you take before the celestial lineup can help everything run smoothly August 21st” / and … “A Step-by-Step guide to the Great American Eclipse.” 


1 Comment

  1. Avatar


    August 20, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    My NASA approved eclipse glasses arrived in the mail yesterday…..whew!!!! They cut it close!

Comments are closed.


Instagram did not return a 200.

Follow Us!