August 19, 2017

Why I'm not traveling to see the total solar eclipse

I really wish I could travel a little ways north to see the total solar eclipse this Monday, but I'm not. Here in Athens, Georgia, we will be just outside the path of the umbra and will see an eclipse which will be 99% total.

First of all, I did not appreciate that the difference between 99% and 100% is a really, really big one percent, so I did not consider making any advance travel plans. Since I learned about the prediction, though, I have read a lot about how much of a difference it makes and what an interesting psychological experience an eclipse can be.

Second of all, I am not sure that any travel plans would be practical in light of our schedule. (In "light" — get it?  Ha, ha.) Even though several eclipse viewing parties are planned here in town, no one is formally accommodating the date of the eclipse as a holiday. August 21 is just another day of class at the University of Georgia and in the Clarke County School District, and it is also my son's first day back to preschool. I want to let him enjoy his first official day of the fall term, and I have a sense of obligation to be present at work where our department provides a vital service at the university since no one has officially canceled classes.

Besides, it will be interesting to see how people react in my own town and find out if traffic goes crazy somehow. And I doubt that I would really want to be far away from home stuck in traffic trying to get home after the event is over. It might not be that big of a deal in Georgia, but since the effects of travel and traffic cannot really be predicted, who knows.

As for trying to get a glimpse of the eclipse itself, I have not been lucky enough to come across eclipse viewing glasses. Facebook friends have been talking about where to find them, and they report that they sell out quickly, but I do not really feel like going on a grand quest that involves shopping. I made my own eclipse viewer for a partial solar eclipse one time, but seeing a projection of the sun really isn't that interesting. I think that seeing the sky darken to twilight and hearing people freaking out will be more interesting overall than the image of the sun alone.

So I am expecting a bittersweet experience: I will be a little sad that I missed the chance to go see a real total solar eclipse, but I will be glad I experienced a near-total eclipse in my own community.


Ezra Freelove said...

You could always get a jump on the 2024 total eclipse.

Adrian Pritchett said...

Maybe by then I'll be making enough money to make hotel reservations in Little Rock. By the way, used to be hosted on the same machine as my old websites (

Adrian Pritchett said...

My eclipse viewing story: Eclipse viewing at Gamma Phi Beta