Lonely Planet Writer

Book now if you want to catch the Great American Eclipse next year

It’s almost a year away, but travellers may have to start planning soon if they want to witness the Great American Eclipse in the US in person on 21 August, 2017. This total solar eclipse is such a rare event  –  the last one occurred in February 1979 – that cities nearest to the centre of the path it will take, are already preparing for an influx of visitors who want to experience the cosmic wonder.

A total eclipse will cross the US on August 21, 2017. Image: Leonardo Patrizi/Getty Images
A total eclipse will cross the US on August 21, 2017. Image: Leonardo Patrizi/Getty Images

During this total solar eclipse,  the sun, the moon and the Earth will align in a way that will see the moon completely blocking out the sun, leaving only a glittering corona around it. It will cross the entire length of the country on a 90-mile-wide path, casting a dark shadow for several minutes. the first in the contiguous United States since 1979. It’s 99 years since the last eclipse travelled the width of the US in 1918, and next year’s event will see it beginning on the west coast of the US near Depoe Bay in Oregon, and ending on the east coast near Charleston in South Carolina.

A total eclipse will occur in the US on August 21 2017. Image: Eclipse 2017
A total eclipse will occur in the US on August 21 2017. Image: Eclipse 2017

The states along what is known as the Path of Totality, are already getting calls from all around the world about the event, because it is such a rare phenomenon. Travellers are expected to fly in from all over to find the best viewing locations, and it is recommended that those interested should reserve hotel rooms and campsites as soon as possible. Many of the best viewing areas are relatively remote, have limited accommodation and hotel rooms are already booking out.

The path of the total eclipse on August 21 2017. Image: Michael Zeiler/Great American Eclipse.
The path of the total eclipse on August 21 2017. Image: Michael Zeiler/Great American Eclipse.

While people are debating where is the best place to go to witness totality, websites like Eclipse 2017  and Great American Eclipse have been set up to provide exact details and maps and give great advice for would-be travellers. It is going to be a very special experience, and there are also many events planned to celebrate it, including the three-day Solar Fest in Madras, Oregon, which will include camping, a music festival and astronomy experts on hand to interpret the big event.