What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the Sun. A rarer total eclipse occurs as the diameter of the Moon is larger than the Sun and blocks all direct sunlight - turning day to night for a short time.

The last total solar eclipse in the UK was in 1999 and the next UK eclipse of any note will be in 2026 – so if you want to experience once before then, heading Stateside is your best bet.

When is the next total solar eclipse?

On 21st August 2017, sky watchers will be treated to a rare and spectacular celestial show — the first total eclipse of the sun visible from the continental United States in nearly 40 years.

Where is it?

You’ll be able to see the solar eclipse all over the USA, but the darkest skies will cross 10 states from Oregon to South Carolina, along a narrow stretch of land about 70 miles (113 kilometres) wide.

If you want to be amongst the first people to experience totality, take your place along the waterfront at Government Point, Oregon, at 10:15am PDT.

Best places to see the 2017 solar eclipse

Madras, Oregon (Totality is 2 min 4 sec and begins at 10:19am PDT)

A 2 hour drive from Portland, Oregon - weather prospects are good and there is the bonus of seeing Mt. Jefferson darken to the west.

As the eclipse completes and daylight returns, make the most of your surroundings and head to the Warm Springs Reservation. Here you can visit the museum and learn about the culture and history of Native American tribes such as the Wascoes, the Warm Springs and the Patiutes.

Just south of Carbondale, Illinois

Carbondale is only a few miles north from the point of greatest duration. At approximately 1:20pm CDT you can experience the total solar eclipse for 2 minutes and 38 seconds!

Amuse yourself en-route to Carbondale in St. Louis, Missouri. Sat proudly on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, you can get a bird’s eye view from the top of the Gateway Arch, take in a baseball game or hit the shops. Post eclipse, why not rent a cabin and hike, swim and fish in Shawnee National Forest? Famed for the spectacular Garden of the Gods, its home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail (403 miles of hiking trails).

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Totality is 1 min 17 sec and begins at 14:35 EDT)

This park will offer expansive views as the Moon’s shadow races across the landscape.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Renowned for its striking beauty and diverse plant and wild life, this is America’s most visited national park. Hikers enjoy the Smoky Mountains all year round and there are many great hiking trails, including Alum Cave Bluffs, Rainbow Falls and Chimney Tops. With roughly 1,500 black bears living in the park, you’ll need to keep your eyes open and learn what to do if you see a bear!

Nashville, Tennessee (Totality is 1 min 57 sec and begins at 13:27 CDT)

Nashville is the largest city wholly within the path of the eclipse. Head to the nation’s music capital and you’ll be guaranteed a great show.

Don’t let 2017’s solar/lunar activity ‘eclipse’ what’s on offer in Nashville (see what we did there?) – visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, pay homage to Elvis, Roy Orbison and more at RCA Studio B and hit the clubs on the Honky Tonk Highway.

Solar Eclipse Facts

  • The speed of the Moon as it moves across the Sun is approximately 2,250 km per hour (1,398 mph)
  • If you are at the North or South Poles, you cannot view a total solar eclipse
  • A total solar eclipse causes a decrease in temperature of up to 20 degrees
  • After a total solar eclipse, it takes about an hour before total day light is restored
  • The maximum time a lunar eclipse can last is 3 hours and 40 minutes. The maximum time for a total solar eclipse is 7 minutes and 40 seconds.

Want to combine more of the USA?

Dramatic as it will no doubt be, the 2017 solar eclipse shouldn’t take up too much of your time, so here are some ideas for a wider trip. If you'd like to plan a trip to the USA, our America specialists can tailor-make your entire itinerary to suit you. To get started, call us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.

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