Columbus, South Carolina
We decided to drive down from DC to South Carolina to experience the totality of the Great American 2017 Eclipse. I’ve never seen one and given that the North American continent had not seen one in nearly a century, this was a big deal. So, we packed our weekender bags and took our angry maltipoo south, in pursuit of awe. On the drive down I was looking at license plates: New York, Canada, Boston… everyone was meeting in the path of totality. Eclipse chasers! I thought, what a crazy idea.
But is it? That Monday we were outside with our cameras ready, and wearing protective glasses that I got from the National Science Foundation and the American Astronomical Society (Thanks, NSF!). It was a clear day in the morning but clouds came chasing in by noon. I was ready to give up. There we were, with 40 minutes left for totality and precipitation was not working in our favor.
Wait! We didn’t come all the way down here to conform with the situation. Get in the car, we are chasing the sun.
We drove until clouds were no more. Finally, we found a spot in the middle of a suburb and decided to stop there because in all honesty, a perfect spot is the spot where you can really experience totality—it can be in the middle of the road or on a high mountain. I know the feeling is the same, and it was.
I’m not easily awestruck, no human is. A great burrito or watching Game of Thrones won’t leave you in awe, although some scientists argue that it might. The awe experience comes from an encounter that awakes your feelings of being inspired by something larger than yourself. It helps expand your understanding of the world.
Looking up, to the Great American Eclipse of 2017, I reached that peak experience where I forgot where I was and sensed a great wonder. I simply could not grasp the greatness of what I was seeing or feeling, I just was humbled and shaken.
The celestial game of chasing solar eclipses
Some people experience a solar eclipse and they want to do it again, and again. It sounds absurd and a little intense to some, but eclipse chasers are a thing. The experience, becomes so powerful that it changes some people’s lives, and they become umbraphiles who go above and beyond to be under the moon’s shadow. For example, in 2016 a group of astronomers got Alaska Airlines to adjust a flight so they could see the eclipse from the air. The video, is one of the most popular eclipse videos on YouTube with a little more than 3 million views. Umbraphiles, I tell you.
If you want to jump on the eclipse chaser bandwagon, I used the NASA eclipse website to give you the following options:
July 2019 and December 2020: South America
Let’s start by saying that July is winter in South America, so it might not be the best option as for clear skies purposes. You can use the NASA map to find the Greatest Eclipse and Greatest Duration locations and plan your trip to the south! Hey, while you are there consider visiting the Patagonia.
Side note: There is another solar eclipse going through Antarctica on 2021 but let’s be honest, no one reading this wants to go there for an eclipse (unless you are a scientist or extremely adventurous).
April 2024: The Americas
I want to call this “The Great Americas Eclipse of 2024” because Canada and Mexico are also in the path of totality. Most articles online give you a list of great cities in the U.S. that you can visit to experience totality, but let me throw Mexico out there. If you go to Mazatlan you can watch it from the beach, and if you go to Durango, you can go listen your inner voice in the silence zone.
August 2026: Iceland and Spain
The Blue Lagoon, one of the 25 wonders of the world, lies on the path of totality of this eclipse. It will also go through Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where you have chance 2 of watching a solar eclipse from the beach.
And the list goes on…
August 2027: Morocco, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia
July 2028: Australia, N.Z.
November 2030: Botswana, S. Africa, Australia
March 2033: e Russia, Alaska
March 2034: Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China
September 2035: China, Korea, Japan, Pacific
July 2037: Australia, New Zealand
December 2038: Australia, New Zealand, s Pacific
April 2041: Angola, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia
April 2042: Malaysia, Indondesia, Philippines, n Pacific
August 2044: Greenland, n Canada, Montana, N. Dakota
August 2045: s US, Haiti, Dominican Rep., Venezuela, Guyana, Fr. Guyana, Suriname, Brazil
August 2046: Brazil, Angola, e Namibia, Botswana, S. Africa, Swaziland, s Mozambique
December 2048: Chile, Argentina, Namibia, Botswana
Main photo credit: Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel