Eclipse 2017-02-my

Chance and Zach Sweetser and Ben Kraft all of Redmond, Wash watch the eclipse as it nears totality in Albany, Ore.

Mark Ylen, Democrat-Herald

So, how was it?

Recall your experience of the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017. Were you amazed, astonished, exuberant, gobsmacked or even frightened? Did you join in or at least hear the cheers, exclamations, and utterances both reverent and profane when the moon’s shadow swept over us?

What you couldn’t be, if in fact you actually saw totality that perfect summer morning, was blasé. The memory of an emotional event such as last month’s darkness at daytime will remain with you for the rest of your life.

It likely seemed shorter than the two minutes or less of its actual duration. It may have left you with a strong desire to see another one, and if so, you probably asked the question, “When’s the next one?”

If that’s the case, then welcome to the ever expanding club of eclipse chasers, umbraphiles who travel long distances to see the most impressive event one can experience standing on Planet Earth.

The next total solar eclipse in the mid-valley isn’t for another 601 years, so you’ll probably have to travel if you want to see another one. If you can’t wait, there are two of them in South America: one in 2019, the other in 2020. A few hardy souls may experience the 2021 event over Antarctica. An eclipse lasting barely over one minute visits a sparsely populated desert peninsula in Western Australia in the year 2023.

Perhaps your eclipse glasses will still be around in October of 2023, when an annular, or "ring of fire," eclipse visits the United States starting in, yes, Oregon, and stretching southeastward through Texas. Corvallis will get a couple of minutes of “annularity” as it’s called, but it will be eccentric.

To see the perfectly concentric ring of sunlight you’ll need to be on the center line which crosses the Pacific coast near Dunes City, intersects I-5 at Yoncalla, visits Diamond Lake in the Cascades and Lakeview before passing into Nevada. Along the center line the moon will spend 4½ minutes crossing in front of the sun but never covering it completely, so you’ll have to wear your eclipse glasses the whole time. There won’t be a diamond ring, but you will see a 6,000° K band of gold. Not as impressive as a total solar eclipse, but well worth a trip to observe it.

But for most of us the good news is that it’s less than seven years until a total solar eclipse revisits the United States. On April 8, 2024, umbraphiles from around the world will experience over four minutes of totality in central Texas. The weather prospects are good.

So, where will you be on April 8, 2024?

Resource: HVA club

The Heart of the Valley Astronomers is a group of amateur astronomers dedicated to sharing our passions for the night sky with the local community in the central Willamette Valley of Oregon.

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We meet on the second Tuesday of each month at the Walnut Community Room located at the Scott Zimbrick Memorial Fire Station No. 5, 4950 NW Fair Oaks Drive in Corvallis. Meetings are free and open to everyone.

We also regularly schedule star parties, technical assistance, astronomy classes through Corvallis Parks and Recreation and educational outreach for public and private groups.

For more information, see www.hvaastronomy.com, or look us up on Facebook.

Question of the Month

Rank these solar eclipses in order of rarity: Total eclipse, partial eclipse, hybrid eclipse, annular eclipse.

Richard Watson is on the board of directors of Heart of the Valley Astronomers.

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