Totality August 21, 2017


The ‘Great American Eclipse’


The most recent total eclipse was on August 21, 2017. This one was called the ‘Great American Eclipse’, as the path of totality crossed the whole country from Oregon to South Carolina, visible from 14 states.   It was the first total eclipse visible from the U.S. mainland since 1979.

eclipse 2017, path of totality, great american eclipse
© Michael Zeiler 2014.

For the first time since 1979, millions of Americans got to experience this amazing event without having to travel abroad. For the 12 million people living within the path of totality, all they had to do was step outside and look up.

I was extensively involved in helping communities across the US prepare for this total eclipse – see PLANNING  for details. 

I again partnered with The Independent Traveller and led a small tour group of 33 international eclipse chasers.  We were privileged to view from one of the most stunning locations across the whole path – Teton Village in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.  This tour was sold out, and we had clear skies and the most perfect viewing experience.

The path of totality for this total solar eclipse started in the north Pacific Ocean, and then made landfall across the central part of North America, crossing the states of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. The moon’s shadow then continued out into the Atlantic Ocean, with a maximum width of 70 miles. The maximum duration of this eclipse was 2 minutes and 45 seconds in western Kentucky.

The visualisations below show the Moon’s central shadow touching down on the U.S. mainland. The central shadow formed the path of totality, where the total solar eclipse was visible. You must be in the path of totality to experience a total eclipse.

This animation closely follows the Moon’s umbra shadow as it passes over the United States during the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse.  Credit: Ernie Wright (USRA): Lead Visualizer Scientific Visualization Studio.  The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).
The umbral and penumbral shadow cones travel across the surface of the Earth during the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse.  Credit:  Ernie Wright (USRA): Lead Visualizer.  Genna Duberstein (USRA): Producer. NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.



The following are links to external sites and are my recommendations for further information. Many of the people behind these websites are passionate eclipse chasers who spend their time (just like I do) developing resources for other to use in their eclipse planning. Click on the links below! is an excellent site with detailed information and superb eclipse maps. Run by eclipse chaser Michael Zeiler, a professional cartographer. pulls together real-time satellite images and computer models that will facilitate finding clear skies on eclipse day – an essential resource. Run by eclipse chaser Jay Anderson, a Canadian meteorologist. is the authoritative source for lunar and solar eclipse predictions and information. Run by eclipse chaser Fred Espenak, a retired NASA astrophysicist also known as ‘Mr Eclipse’.

SolarEclipsesGoogleMaps is a feature-laden interactive GoogleMap that allows for detailed information across the path of totality for past and future eclipses. Run by eclipse chaser Xavier Jubier, a French IT specialist. is a very comprehensive site that focuses on the next total eclipse on August 21, 2017. Run by eclipse chaser Dan McGlaun.

The official eye safety guidance endorsed by the American Astronomical Society and NASA can be found on this site. This is THE authoritative guidance, anything that contradicts this information is wrong.

Several sites are collating eclipse events. This thorough listing by the AAS includes communities within and outside of the path of totality, as well as eclipse tours and conferences.

This site shows how you can be involved in scientific observations, experiments and projects that you can do yourself, or be part of across the path of totality. Coordinated by NASA.

The best advice for your first total eclipse is to simply observe it. But if you want to know about basic smartphone photography, then start here with NASA at