Eclipse News

2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Where to Be, When to be There


There are two rules that must be observed by anyone wishing to witness the maximum amount of the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st, 2017.  Both must be adhered to in order to observe max totality for the region of the country in which you are located.


The total solar eclipse is visible only within the path of the moon’s umbral shadow


We’ll go into umbral and penumbral shadow details in an upcoming post but for now the umbral is the smaller, darker shadow (where a total solar eclipse is visible) at the center of the larger, lighter penumbral shadow (where a partial solar eclipse is visible).  As the umbral shadow moves across the landscape it produces a band of totality that is only, on average, about 66 miles wide (for the August 21, 2017 eclipse).  If you are not within this band you will not see a total eclipse.  No exceptions.


Within the band of this umbral shadow, the closer you are to the center line of the shadow, the longer the duration of totality will be for you

At any spot along the path the longest duration occurs at this central line and decreases as you move north or south of it toward the edges of the umbral shadow.  Our spherical moon casts a circular shadow upon the earth and it is this roundness that causes the duration gradient focused on the all-important Central Line.


St. Louis and Kansas City are both situated on one of the limit lines of totality, meaning half the citizens of these cities will see a total eclipse and half will not.  Folks on the shadow side of the limit line (south in St. Louis and north in Kansas City) will see a total eclipse, however, it will last only 15 to 30 seconds because of their distance from the Central Line.  Residents of St. Louis would be advised to move about 30 miles or so south (in Kansas City about 30 miles or so north) to increase the duration to over 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Follow the Path

The path of the moon’s shadow travels from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of about 2,500 miles, in just under 90 minutes.  If you have your calculator handy you may have already determined this is just shy of three times the speed of sound.  If you are standing, sitting or lying in the zone as the moon’s shadow sweeps over you the entire sequence will last about 90 minutes, from the first contact of the partial eclipse through totality to last contact as the moon exits the solar disk. 

Here at Scopedawg Optics we have developed a tool to make sure you are in the right the place at the right time.  Odie’s Eclipse Maps is an easy to use guide that highlights the best locations for max eclipse viewing on the Central Line in every state the moon’s shadow touches.  From the link on the home page you merely hover and click on the region in which you reside to find the best spots and important eclipse data, such as the duration of totality and the start / stop times for both the partial and the total phases of the eclipse.  All maps can be printed or saved as a .pdf (with eclipse data) and a Google map of the state is but a click away.

Check out Odie’s Eclipse Maps to ensure you are where you need to be, when you need to be there.




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