Author Topic: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017  (Read 7839 times)

Fancyacupoftea

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Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« on: March 21, 2015, 09:25:38 AM »
Hi everyone,
I'm new to the forum but have been reading the blog for a while now.

We have caught the Eclipse fever after the recent partial one in the Uk.  It was a bit of a washout where we live - totally obscured by cloud.

We would love to visit the US to see the eclipse in 2017 (as I'm sure many people will) and we are obviously trying to work out whether this is feasible or not. This would be me and my husband, and my two sons who will be 15 and 10 by then.

It would be great to have your thoughts about;

1. Is this just going to be a big waste of money?! It will probably cost in the region of 3,000-4,000 (wow that's a lot written down!).

2. Where would be the best place to watch it - this will be a significant holiday for us (we normally house swap or camp in the UK!) and we would obviously like to watch the eclipse but also do holiday type things - mainly outside type activities including beach (I did vaguely think about Charleston and the beaches near there?)

3. How far in advance would people think about booking accommodation?

Would be great to have any of your thoughts - positive and negative!!!

Thank you!

xenon5

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2015, 12:06:55 PM »
 I've never seen an eclipse and would love to, so after seeing this thread I put some reminders on my google calendar in early 2017 to remind me to plan a trip to see it!

in terms of the best place to go, It really depends on what you're looking for.  SC is probably the best option for the beach, though I haven't been there so not sure what it's like.  You could also do a Northwest US tour, maybe a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco? :)  Also, the eclipse will pass over parts of the famous Yellowstone National Park if you don't mind flying so far to see nature!

You also have the option to book an "open jaw" trip with frequent flyer miles without much extra cost.  For example, on my upcoming trip to Japan, it would have been 70k points for round trip to Japan or 80k to add a long stopover anywhere - Alaska, Thailand, Hawaii, whatever!  I opted not to since I figure there will be plenty to see in Japan, but it's an option!

I don't know how it is in the UK, but the credit card companies are really loose with air miles on sign up bonuses these days in the US.  With 2 years to plan you can start figuring out how to earn enough points to significantly reduce your trip cost and maybe even see multiple places in one trip.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2015, 12:23:31 PM by xenon5 »

Gerard

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2015, 01:07:33 PM »
It seems like an awful lot of loot, but I don't have the eclipse bug so don't listen to me. :-)

One thing that does strike me: it would suck to make the trip and then have cloud cover mess you up. Maybe somewhere farther from the coast would give you higher odds of sunshine.

If you do end up on the Carolina coast, Myrtle Beach might be a cheaper place to stay than Charleston, especially for Airbnb. You might want to think about staying in a university residence, too. Many of them are apartment-style.

2ndTimer

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2015, 01:12:25 PM »
I live in the Seattle area and although it is beautiful and I encourage you to come here, I wouldn't plan to watch the eclipse from here.  Too much chance of not being able to see it due to weather.  If your heart is set on this part of the country, plan a trip of a bout 100 miles straight East from Seattle for the actual eclipse.  That will put you in high desert country which is perfect for skywatching. 

Fancyacupoftea

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2015, 01:22:25 PM »
Thanks to all who posted :-) Still not sure whether we will actually do this trip but it's fun trying to work out where the best place to go is! And the cheapest way to get there!!!

Ihad forgotten about frequent flyer miles so will look into them. Not sure we spend enough to get enough points to get a long haul flight.

Really enjoying finding out about the amazing places to go in the US. And the thought of going on an adventure! I never travelled before going to university (or indeed after!) and would love to share these experiences with my family.

Thanks again - lots of research now needed!

Argyle

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2015, 01:32:04 PM »
I suspect it will be a washout, so do it only if you already were yearning to come to the U.S. on vacation.

I saw a total eclipse of the sun some years ago (in Africa).  The thing is that the surrounding sky is still light.  So it looks as if a cloud went over the sun.  The sun is slowly covered.  It gets dusky for maybe 20 minutes.  Not dark.  Just like a grayish day.  The rest of the sky is still light.  Then it imperceptibly gets lighter.  Then it's over.  That's the whole thing.  Like a cloud went over the sun.  Kind of a damp squib.  Not really something to aim a vacation at.  However, if you'd like to come to the U.S. anyway, and you were hoping to see a lot of stuff and spend a good deal of money, you might as well come at eclipse time as not.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2015, 01:34:44 PM »
If you are really serious about proper conditions for seeing the eclipse in all of it's glory, I would head out west, to maybe Wyoming (great national parks for before or after the eclipse) or Nebraska.  We are going to try and catch it out east, but afternoon thunderclouds are very common in August.

FLBiker

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2015, 01:52:06 PM »
I'd look into the weather, but it looks like the path might go over the Smokies.  It might be muggy / rainy in August, though.

I like the idea of Western states, but I don't have experience out there myself.

bogart

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2015, 02:07:32 PM »
If you enjoy travelling, haven't been (or brought your kids to) the US before, and can manage it, a trip here sounds like a great idea -- and no reason not to try to time it to see the eclipse.  Other than eclipses ;), what do you enjoy travelling to see?  And/or what parts of the US, if any, appeal to you as possible destinations?

Fancyacupoftea

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2015, 02:53:40 PM »
Hum - what do I like to see when on holiday? Mainly nature and history I think. My boys and husband love the beach but also outdoors things (walking, cycling etc). I think the main thing that might be a problem for me will be heat and humidity as I'm rubbish with both and the eclipse is late August.

Yes I think the eclipse might be a let down but it would be great to time a trip to coincide, especially as it's the school holidays. We have been considering hiring a car and possibly camping (would buy/ hire the things we need), and taking a good 3 weeks to do this. No idea where to fly to but flying to the  East coast is obviously much cheaper than going to the West.

An eclipse tour is heading to Jackson hole to view the eclipse so they obviously think this is one of the best places to view.

Frankly I really have no idea and very open to suggestions about best places to go!!!!

Gone Fishing

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2015, 03:08:57 PM »
Stay above 3000ft in the mountains and the heat should be very tolerable.

firewalker

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2015, 03:15:35 PM »
Great idea! But you'll need a Lear jet and aim for Nova Scotia and  ... I feel a song coming on...

NCGal

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2015, 03:44:56 PM »
Great idea! But you'll need a Lear jet and aim for Nova Scotia and  ... I feel a song coming on...

Oh Firewalker you're so vain! The OP may be too young to know the reference. (And for some reason that song has been in my head all day. I keep thinking "Was she really singing about Mick Jagger?")

southern granny

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2015, 03:46:12 PM »
Charleston area is beautiful, I haven't seen the western parks but will be going there this year.  I offer you one other alternative.  You could fly into Nashville, TN.  From there you would be 4 hours from the Smokey Mountains. You could easily spend a week there.  There are a lot of things to do in Nashville, and within two hours of Nashville, you could visit Mammoth Cave in Ky, you would also be within two hours of the Land between the Lakes recreation area in Kentucky and Tennessee.  The attractions there are boating, fishing, hiking, etc.  I don't know how much time you want to spend driving, but the throughbred horse stables around Lexington are beautiful.  Just a thought.

Joshin

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2015, 05:06:31 PM »
Start with the eclipse map to see where totality will be:
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2017Aug21Tgoogle.html

Then, look up the average days of cloud cover in late August for anywhere you would like to visit.

From there, search online for a local amateur astronomy group in the region you are considering. Contact them and ask if they will be doing any public events or allowing public viewing. They will also give you on the ground advice for the chances of a good viewing. Even better, astro-buffs are very likely to invite you to their viewing location and to let you look through their solar telescopes. They may even invite you our for a beer afterward.

What not to do: Avoid the Eclipse Viewing trips offered by various outfits each time one of these happens. Unless you are a hardcore astro-geek or majorly into astrophotography, these are a ripoff. Hell, I AM an astro-geek and I wouldn't pay one of these groups to see an eclipse. A good astro club is all you need, and we love to introduce new people to the sky. Donations are appreciated, though :)

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2015, 05:50:04 PM »
An eclipse tour is heading to Jackson hole to view the eclipse so they obviously think this is one of the best places to view.

I deleted my original reply because the one above mine has a much better link to the NASA site showing the path.  I've been to quite a lot of the US now including Charleston, South Carolina (one of the regions in the 100% band) and also Jackson Hole, which is the jumping off point for the Grand Tetons and just south of Yellowstone National Park.  I've done Tetons/Yellowstone in August before and it wasn't bad at all.  A little warm, a bit more mosquitoes than I'm used to, but overall I loved it.  I also love western Oregon, and it appears you can still catch full eclipse from there, although you'd really have to be in the eastern part of Oregon to have any assurance of clear skies.  Western Oregon is way prettier for hiking and camping, but all that greenery is due to the frequent rainfall and cloud cover.  Good luck with whatever you decide, but my preference would be for the northwest, such as the Tetons/Yellowstone rather than South Carolina.

bogart

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2015, 08:50:13 PM »
OK.  So, at a guess, the cheapest places for you to fly (unless you stumble across a deal) will likely be New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, possibly Atlanta, possibly Miami.  Of those, the U.S. Capital is really pretty darned cool (not literally, in August, unfortunately), and absolutely chock-a-bloc full of wonderful, free museums (even museums that appeal to children), and other cool stuff.  The others are also lovely (I particularly like Boston), but to me at least stand out less (from one another) as "pick this one!" sites.  And the capital isn't necessarily the right one, either -- but in some ways an obvious choice if your boys have not been to the US.

From those spots, you should be easily able to find "reasonable" tickets to major western destinations, and the US West really is strikingly lovely, very different from the UK (in a way that I think much of our east coast is not, in terms of geography).

You have two years (!!) to plan this.  Why not engage your kids and plan a grand trip, defined in part by them ... they have to do the research and propose itineraries, or at least, destinations and bases for visiting them.

(As you must know but likely won't fully, fully appreciate until you are here unless you are the kind of person who can really "feel" a hypothetical budget ... gasoline is ABSURDLY cheap here (currently around $2.30 a gallon where I live, and even when it was "horrifically expensive" by our standards, it was $4.##).  On the other hand, our vehicles are -- go figure -- less fuel efficient (but bigger, useful for a long trip and camping), and except in major metro areas and along the northern section of the east coast, non-car, non-plane transport is pretty impractical.  Also our groceries and things are much cheaper, if I remember right.  In a cheap but mainstream local grocery store, I'm currently paying around $3.50 for a gallon of milk, maybe $2.50 for a half-gallon of OJ, $2 for a dozen eggs, maybe $1.50 for a lb. of apples, $.50 for a lb. of bananas.)

Fancyacupoftea

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2015, 10:17:58 AM »
You guys are great - thank you so much for all your ideas (and yes the song reference went waaaaay over my head!). I particularly love the idea about getting in contact with local astronomy groups.

The trip has become less of an eclipse watching trip than a North American adventure - far too excited already!

Thanks again!

Bob W

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2015, 08:11:12 AM »
Great idea! But you'll need a Lear jet and aim for Nova Scotia and  ... I feel a song coming on...

Oh Firewalker you're so vain! The OP may be too young to know the reference. (And for some reason that song has been in my head all day. I keep thinking "Was she really singing about Mick Jagger?")
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madamwitty

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2015, 01:05:13 PM »
Ooh, a lot if good suggestions here! I was planing to drive from SoCal up to Oregon (probably camping) but the concern about weather is a good one and not something I had considered. I grew up in Seattle so I know that August weather in the PNW, though generally clear, can be unpredictable. I like the idea of Yellowstone in particular. Seems like it would be a memorable trip for the whole family.

Punxsyboy

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2015, 09:27:05 PM »
I'd recommend Wyoming, weather should be good, you could also camp & enjoy the Tetons & Yellowstone....if u have enough time u could also camp in the Bighorn Mountains & take in a rodeo in Casper, Wyoming.   Depending on time & where u fly into there are SO many options out West for National Parks but you'll want to stay in the mountains to keep cool.  You could consider renting a motor home if it's in your budget, or purchase some second hand camping gear at a thrift shop.....just throwing out options  :)

Albert

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2015, 01:02:34 AM »
Didn't expect a thread about this here! I'm also thinking this would be a good excuse to vacation in US again. Total eclipses are not that rare, but what is rare is for them to be in such a cheap and easily accessible location and extending for so long across the land. I see the totality goes over Willamette valley south of Portland. I've lived there and chances of sunny weather in late August are very high (unlike on the coast). That might just be your best bet and the area is interesting otherwise too. Oregon coastline is beautiful, Crater lake is definitely worth visiting, same for driving over Cascade mountains or, if coming from California, you could continue north to Seattle area and Olympic national park. If I end up going I'll probably fly to Seattle and drive South catching the eclipse along the way.

NICE!

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2015, 05:49:01 AM »
If you're going to the US and you want to see the most natural beauty and variety in one trip, you can't go wrong with California. You have Yosemite, Redwoods, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Big Sur, to name a few. I don't think there's anywhere else in the US with that kind of variety and beauty. You could fly into San Francisco, rent a car, see the Redwoods, Pinnacles, Monterey Bay, Big Sur, Yosemite, and then Kings Canyon. You could also add Death Valley and Joshua Tree if you want to venture south.

I love all of the other places mentioned and I am much more of an East Coaster than I am West Coaster, but I don't think any of the other places offer as much as vast and beautiful California.

Albert

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2015, 06:05:01 AM »
Right, but the eclipse doesn't pass through California therefore if that is part of the reason for going just California won't do.

NICE!

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Re: Visiting US to watch eclipse in 2017
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2015, 06:33:32 AM »
Right, but the eclipse doesn't pass through California therefore if that is part of the reason for going just California won't do.

Reading is fundamental. My bad.