The greatest spectacle of nature in the wildest places of nature. There is no better excuse for travel than to witness a solar eclipse, and this is of particular importance to advanced planners of National Parks Week, which begins this weekend.
Caused by the Moon blocking the Sun for a few minutes, the surreal sight of a solar eclipse can be seen from anywhere on the globe, but it is highly predictable.
And as it turns out, North America is on the verge of getting three in just four years, one of which is on view for over 20 of America’s top national parks.
The climax will come on April 8, 2024 when a total solar eclipse – dubbed the “Great North American Eclipse” – erupts across Mexico, the United States, and Canada, bringing spectacular wholeness to the naked eye. as long as 4 minutes 33 seconds.
However, before that there are two similar, but different types of celestial events: annular solar eclipses. These are basically fairly partial eclipses, caused by a slightly smaller Moon (furthest from Earth in its egg-shaped orbit) blocking the middle portion of the Sun. You must wear solar eclipse goggles at all times, but it’s still a stunning sight.
Here’s what you need to know to both enjoy it – one from your home (or from a plane) next June and the other from one of dozens of national parks in exactly 900 days:
The June 2021 “ circle of fire ” eclipse in Canada
On Thursday, June 10, 2021, a “ring of fire” solar eclipse – during which 94% of the Sun will be eclipsed – will be visible from remote areas of far northern Ontario, Canada (including the Polar Bear Provincial, closed for now. Park on the southwest shore of Hudson Bay), Greenland and Russia.
Sadly, few will see it thanks to Canada’s closed borders, difficult remote terrain, and uncertain weather prospects. The only realistic chance for Americans to see it is to get a last minute seat Sky and telescope Special chartered Annular Eclipse flight that departs from Minneapolis-Saint-Paul airport and returns three hours later.
“What makes this flight viable and attractive is that it occurs near the horizon just after sunrise, so it will be easy to see out of the plane’s windows,” said Kelly Beatty, editor-in-chief at Sky and telescope. “The sun will be just above the horizon, which should allow for spectacular, wider-angle photography.”
No one has chartered a large plane to capture an annular eclipse since 1951.
Although the “ring of fire” proves elusive for most, those of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada will (clear skies allow) a huge, partially eclipsed “crescent of the sun” appear. on the horizon just after sunrise. It could be a great sight, and it’s worth getting up (very) early for.
The October 2023 “ circle of fire ” eclipse in the United States
If you want the perfect “ring of fire,” the easiest option is to wait until October 14, 2023 when another annular solar eclipse arrives in North America, this time in the southwestern United States.
This time the path stretches from Oregon to Texas through Nevada, Utah and New Mexico, bringing a maximum five minute solar eclipse “ring of fire” that will see 90% of the Sun blocked by the moon.
And there’s a mess of national parks inside the 125-mile-wide “Annularity Path” to see it – with the best weather forecast for these Colorado Plateau parks:
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (2 minutes 15 seconds)
- Canyonlands National Park, Utah (2 minutes 24 seconds
- Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico (4 minutes 42 seconds)
- Crater Lake National Park, Oregon (4 minutes 19 seconds)
- Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado (2 minutes 58 seconds)
- National Natural Bridges Monument, Utah (4 minutes 28 seconds)
There are many, many more national parks traversed by this eclipse path, making October 2023 a great time to plan a road trip. Plus, many of these national parks are also certified as International Dark Sky Parks, with as many as 20 of these stargazing-friendly regions on the way.
Eclipses can only occur during the New Moon when our satellite is between Earth and the Sun, making “Eclipse Week” the darkest week of the month, and therefore perfect for stargazing.
After leaving the United States, the “ring of fire” will then travel to the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and Brazil.
Disclaimer: I am the publisher of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com
I wish you clear skies and wide eyes.