Aug 29

102 – Planning Your Solar Eclipse Experience. Things To Watch Out For.

Hi everybody, welcome to the 8 21 17 podcast.  Episode 102, entitled ‘basic trip planning for the solar eclipse’.  I’m Ed Owen, your host.
Next August 21, millions of people in the US will journey into the path of the total solar eclipse.  And it’s probably safe to say TENS of millions will make the trip.  Roads will be crowded, hotels will be full, and infrastructure will be strained to the max.  Today we’re talking about the basics of planning your trip.  With proper planning, your eclipse viewing will be an event to remember the rest of your life.  But, it could also end up being a huge disappointment.  Together, we can keep that from happening.
OK, so you’ve made up your mind to see the eclipse.  But let’s determine what type of eclipse viewer you are.  You might be what I call the “professional” eclipse viewer.  This viewer is VERY serious about their eclipse watching.  They’ve probably been to one or more already, they know what they’re doing, and let’s be honest, they probably AREN’T listening to this basic planning podcast.  And that’s ok!  They’re the ones who will have a plan, then another plan on top of that one if conditions aren’t right, and probably a third and fourth plan.  If any of them ARE listening, feel free to send us tips at ‘podcast at eclipse made easy dot com’.
So, let’s put that group aside and go to the rest of you.  Two types.  Those of you who want to do the planning yourself.  And those of you who want someone else to take care of everything.  It really doesn’t matter how serious you are about watching the eclipse, the items we’ll discuss concern each of you in their own way.
First, a couple of points.  It is estimated that tens of millions of people will journey to the centerline of the eclipse.  This will happen from Oregon to South Carolina.  What that has created are hundreds of events, festivals and commercial operations, all vying to get you to spend your time (and yes, money), in their area.  And that’s fine.  As long as you pick the best deal for you and your eclipse watching, and a location that you know you’ll be able to access on Monday, August 21st.
We’re not going to try and tell you one way is better than the other, or one is good and one is bad.  That is totally up to YOU to decide.  But we’ll give you some pointers.
OK, let’s get started.
The eclipse on August 21 is basically an event of a few hours.  Before and after that 2 to 3 hours will be a show.  And the morning of August 21 is going to be crazy.  Traffic promises to be massive moving into towns along the centerline.  So you want to make sure that you can be in whatever place you plan to be, in plenty of time, with as little hassle as possible.  This should be your most important thought.
Also take into consideration that the eclipse falls on a Monday.  That gives you a great opportunity for a long weekend doing any number of things.  Museums, parks, camping, whatever.  If you decide to make a weekend of it, you can either decide you want to be in area X on the weekend, near the centerline, and find a view site from there, or start with a view site and look for things to do nearby as a secondary thought.  Again, no right or wrong.
Let’s talk about infrastructure.
If you’re looking at a site to view the eclipse, consider everything.  The size of the town, the location of the view site, and even the roads leading in to it.  IF you’re going to be at the general area of the view site a day or two early, this really isn’t as big of a deal.  You can get settled in with no worries and be prepared on August 21st.  But if you are considering a view site where there is ‘day of’ travel involved, make sure you know what you’re involved with.
Many municipalities around the country are putting on viewing events and festivals.  And there are great plans involved for those eclipse viewers who make the trek.
But here are some questions you should think about as you make your eclipse watching plans.  If your plan is to drive in day of, then use this simple check sheet.
First, how large is the area I’m visiting, and what kind of roads do they have leading into the view area?  A worse case scenario would be an eclipse view site, open to the public, a free event, that becomes incredibly overcrowded early, with inadequate parking for the masses and no overflow plan.  And let’s say those roads we talked about to the site aren’t made for this kind of traffic.  Well, you’d hate to be stuck in a traffic jam when the eclipse occurs.
Or what about you actually make it to the view site, and conditions are so tight that you can’t set up a camera or other equipment without fear of it getting jostled, or even knocked over.  These are questions you have to ask.  You may be saying to yourself, I’m not worried about taking pictures, etc., but I assure you as we get closer and closer to the eclipse, you’re going to start thinking about just what YOU need to do to be able to make your own photographic memory.
Bottom line, am I guaranteed sufficient space to actually ENJOY the eclipse, take photos, etc.  Or will I feel like a sardine in the proverbial can.  If you’ve spent a year or more planning this event, you should be able to find a facility that offers you an atmosphere to enjoy it, and to make it productive for you personally.
Next, what kinds of facilities is the event site going to offer?
What about food?  Shade?  Seating?  Water?  Restrooms?
Do you need to bring your own view glasses, or will they be provided?
If you investigate all of these items, then you should have great success in finding a view site that provides a lifetime of memories.
Now, package deals.  We’re just making you aware of them in case you DON’T want to make your own plans.  All across the country, various groups, primarily travel oriented companies, are making eclipse package plans available to you.  In most cases, they’ve secured sites which will allow you a private viewing area, with plenty of space, and various amenities such as lunches, viewing glasses, drinks, entertainment, and the assurance you will get to your view site in plenty of time for the eclipse.  And, the ultimate viewing luxury.  Space.
Depending on your needs, one of these might work well for you.
Bottom line.  Study, and book early.  And maximize your view time.  That is what it is all about.
That’s it for this episode of the podcast.   PLEASE leave us comments at the website and if you like the podcast, rate us at whichever site you subscribe at.  You can also email me at
Until next time, I’m Ed Owen for the 8 21 17 podcast.

Aug 21

101 – 2017 Solar Eclipse Podcast Primer


Hi everybody, welcome to the 8 21 17 podcast.  Episode 101, entitled ‘your solar eclipse primer’.  I’m Ed Owen, your host.
This is the first REAL episode of the podcast.  I hope you’ll consider subscribing.  We’ll be doing these weekly, well, at least that’s the plan, all the way up to eclipse week, 2017.  
New episodes will be posted at eclipse made easy dot com, and when you visit that site, you’ll find links to subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or the Google Play store.
During the course of this series, we’ll talk about a lot of things regarding the eclipse, including telling you what the eclipse is, how to view it safely, and even some tips for making plans if you’re traveling to an eclipse view site.  You’ll hear interviews with eclipse experts and we promise not to get TOO technical.  I like to call this “the people’s eclipse podcast”.
In this episode, we’re going to address quite simply, “What is the eclipse?  What has to happen to make an eclipse occur? And why is the solar eclipse of 2017 SUCH a big deal?”  You’ll also learn a few, basic eclipse terms.  You’re going to hear these terms a LOT over the next 12 months.
And keep in mind, IF you want to review, that you can see the actual text of this podcast, along with the recording, at eclipse made easy dot com.
OK, let’s go.  A lunar eclipse is quite simply when the earth gets between the sun and the moon.  During a lunar eclipse, the reflected light of the sun off the moon is blocked by the earth.
During a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the earth and the sun, and directly blocks the sun and the light it emits.  They are really that simple to explain.  And an eclipse can be either partial, or total.

Graphic courtesy: BBC

A solar eclipse ONLY occurs during a full moon or a new moon.  But, a solar eclipse doesn’t occur EVERY time there IS a full or new moon. For example, in 2016 there are 12 full moons and 13 new moons, but only four eclipses.  Two solar and two lunar.
So why isn’t there an eclipse each time?  Here’s why.  The earth’s orbital plane is called the ecliptic.  IF the moon orbited the earth in the same plane as this ecliptic, we’d have 24 eclipses a year.  12 during the new moon phase,  and 12 during the full moon phase.
The problem is, that the earth and moon are NOT on the same orbital plane.   In fact there is about a five degree difference in the orbits of the two.  (see illustration)
Moon5degreetiltTwice a month the orbits of the earth and the moon intersect at a point called a node.  Depending on the direction of the orbit, these can be ascending nodes, or descending nodes.  IF the moon is close enough to one of these intersecting nodes, then an eclipse is inevitable.   And depending on the precision of the intersection point, you can have a partial eclipse, or a full eclipse.
If you really want to get technical about some of the terms, check out umbra, u-m-b-r-a, penumbra, p-e-n-u-m-b-r-a, and antumbra.  That’s a-n-t-u-m-b-r-a.  Those are parts of a shadow and they’re directly tied in with a solar eclipse.
Each year, there are more eclipses than you realize.  Worldwide, there can be anywhere from 4 to 7 and these can be lunar or solar, partial and total.  But there can ONLY be two total solar eclipses a year.  That’s the way nature works.   
So, you can see that an eclipse at any given point in time on planet earth, is kind of rare.  That’s why many people make it a hobby to view as many of them as they can.
Now, consider two things: 
One, the last full solar eclipse in the contiguous US was in 1979.  And it only touched a few states in the northwest.  There wasn’t the hype of the 2017 eclipse, and not as many people viewed it. (,_1979 )
Two, the last time America had a solar eclipse track across the nation from coast to coast was 99 years ago. ( ) Before social media, before television and radio, before the interstate highway system.
So you can see why the 2017 eclipse which will cross the United States is SUCH a big deal.  It is a once in a lifetime event.  You have tens of millions of Americans interested in seeing this event.  You have more media coverage than for any similar event in history.  You have a nation actively promoting the eclipse and the event.  And top it off with the scores of visitors from outside American borders who will be visiting here in the states.
Now, let’s focus on the event itself.
The eclipse will first touch American soil on a beach in Oregon, just north of Newport at about 10:15 on the morning of August 21st.  It will then make it’s way across the country, in something of a southeastern pattern, before exiting on the east coast near McClellansville, South Carolina at 2:49.  nd then it will be gone.  And ‘we saw the eclipse’ parties will take place all over the country!
Here’s a term I want you to remember.  Center line.  Here’s what that term means.  As the eclipse crosses the United States, the path of total darkness is only about 68 miles wide.  At any given point, the halfway between the northernmost point seeing the full eclipse, and the southernmost point is the center line. For each mile or kilometer you go away from the center line, you’ll lose an amount of total darkness length.
The maximum length a full solar eclipse can be is about 7 1/2 minutes.  Eclipses of this length are very rare.  In fact, you won’t find an eclipse longer than seven minutes until 2150.  For the 2017 eclipse, viewers will be able to observe the eclipse for as short as a few seconds, to as long as 2 minutes 40 seconds.
I think you could say safely that this will be the most viewed sky event in history.  Along the way the eclipse will touch parts of 14 states.  If you hear the number 10 states, that’s also correct.  The center line WILL touch 10 states.  But the eclipse itself will affect 14 states, although several of those will only see darkness in unpopulated areas, and for a very short time.  And then it will be gone.  
That’s it for this episode of the podcast.  Next week, some tips in picking your viewing location and we’ll include some links to make it easy for you.  We’ll give you ‘food for thought’ about what you should be looking for as you plan YOUR eclipse excursion.  In the meantime, PLEASE leave us comments at the website and if you like the podcast, rate us at whichever site you subscribe at.  You can also email me at
Until next time, I’m Ed Owen for the 8 21 17 podcast.

Jul 23

Podcast Introduction – Starts 08/21/16

Welcome to the 8-21-17 podcast. Actually, an introduction. The REAL podcast begins on August 21, 2016. That’s one year to the day before next summer’s eclipse. Once it starts, you’ll get a podcast a week, until the week before the eclipse.

My name is Ed Owen and I live in the heart of viewing country of the 2017 eclipse.

I’m originally from Hopkinsville, Kentucky. You may have heard a lot about that little town. It has received an incredible amount of publicity the last few years as it is the epicenter of the 8-21-17 eclipse. In fact, we started talking about the eclipse in the Hopkinsville area as far back as ten years ago. At that time it seemed like a lifetime away. Now, it’s just a year and a few days.

These days, I live right across the border in Tennessee and do a lot of tourist related work in Nashville. Nashville is the city that astronomy dot com said was the premiere large city in America to visit for the eclipse. It is the largest American city that will reach total darkness, has wonderful transportation in and out of the city, domestic AND international, and is an incredible destination on it’s own. Eclipse or NO eclipse.

OK, full disclosure, you should know that I am promoting a series of tours for eclipse visitors who are coming to the centerline of the view path to watch the eclipse. We are welcoming thousands of visitors to Nashville next summer, but for those visitors, we’ll actually be observing the eclipse from a location less than 30 miles from the epicenter, near the Kentucky border in Clarksville. That’s where we’ll receive 2 minutes 20 seconds of total darkness.

But the purpose of the podcast is NOT, and WON’T be, to try and sell you. The purpose of the podcast will be to educate, and maybe even entertain you a bit. We may spend a few seconds AFTER each podcast talking about what we’re doing, but you’re safe during the podcast itself.

If you’re an eclipse novice, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss terminology, history, ‘how tos’ like “how to photograph an eclipse” or “how to view an eclipse”, things like that. We’ll do that in the early stages of the series.

And if you’re an expert, we’ll be talking to some pretty impressive people who’ll be traveling to watch the eclipse and who are experts in this field. And you’ll start to understand why you should be in a position to view the eclipse as well. No matter where you intend to view it from.

And for the most part, this podcast will be brief and to the point. I do NOT like long, drawn out podcasts. Get to the point, move along. I don’t know about you, but I figure MOST things can be said in ten minutes or so. the ‘8 – 21 – 17 podcast’ will be short and to the point, with special exceptions being if we have a guest that truly has a LOT to say, and then we might issue two versions of the podcast. Time will tell on that.

And occasionally after the show, we’ll talk about Nashville and the area I live in, and THEN maybe we’ll throw in a plug for joining us. But always after the meat of the show.

Now that you know what we’re doing, we welcome your input. Whether you have questions you’d like answered, topics you’d like to see us cover, or even guests you think we should have on the podcast, let me know. Email me at That’s

Now, make sure you subscribe to the podcast, or sign up for our mailing list, or both.

And thanks for joining me here on the 8-21-17 podcast.