The buzz is building about the total solar eclipse. People are buying special glasses that will totally protect them from the harm of looking at the sun (sunglasses won’t do). Stories are out there about possibly a million viewers in Oregon alone jamming highways, motels, mountaintops and campsites, overrunning the area inside the 70-mile wide swath of totality that runs through Salem, Corvallis and Bend before heading onward into Idaho on its way to South Carolina, a nation-spanning path that's gotten it dubbed by many "The Great American Eclipse."
City officials in many of these towns have said they are worried about traffic, solid waste disposal and how to feed that many people — something like summer tourism on solar-steriods. But the fear of mobs may many away. It’s an unknown. An eclipse like this hasn't happened in the U.S. for a century, back before Americans were nearly so mobile.
One of the coolest things about a total solar eclipse is that if you gain some elevation and look down on the landscape you’ll see the shadow of the moon flying across the landscape, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most.
Many events are planned around the state in the hours before eclipse, with concerts, lectures and fun at wineries, fairgrounds and colleges.
If you choose to stay put in the Rogue Valley — should we call this a “stay-clipse?” — it will only be a 93 percent eclipse, meaning the sun will be pared down to a sliver, like a crescent moon. So, at the peak of the eclipse it will be very shady here, but not stark nighttime like in the area of the total eclipse, and no moon shadow racing over the land.
ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum in Ashland will celebrate with a ticketed gathering on the lawn the morning of the eclipse. Viewing glasses will be on sale for a dollar. There will be astronomy activities all week, culminating in an admission-free star party at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25.
The eclipse starts here at 9:03 a.m, when the first tiny bit of the sun is obscured. The eclipse peaks at 10:17 a.m. here, and the last bit of the sun obscured by the moon is free to shine again at 11:38 a.m.
We asked Ashlanders where they’ll take in the eclipse and what this stellar event means to them personally.
Willie Love — I’ll be working outside. I’m in construction, a carpenter. I already got my eclipse glasses. REI has them, $10 for four of them. For me, I’m a Christian. During the crucifixion, everything went dark, so I want to experience that and pay close attention to what it feels like.
Christina Love — I’m not sure yet. I’m not working and will be outside with my dog. I’m getting the glasses. I also want to experience what it was like for Jesus. It’s something big in the universe that we can’t control and we don’t know why it’s happening.
Sam Inada — I live off Walker, a nice place to watch at 9 in the morning. My mom is a teacher and she got glasses from the science teacher. It is so rare and is such an example of how the earth we live in is so cool. I sure will want to watch the shadow move across the land.
Alejandra Escalante — I will probably be acting. I’m with the festival. Oh, it’s in the morning? OK, I will be asleep. I’m just learning about it. I will get up and watch it. I’m putting it in my calendar right now. Yes, I want to watch the shadow move across the valley. This is getting me excited about it.
Taylor Mieri — I’ll be rafting on the main Salmon River in Idaho. Everyone is already talking about this. We’ll have to stop and watch it. Of course, we’ll have glasses. I feel it will be an anticlimactic moment because there has been such hype about it. People are paying a lot to be in the path of it, for lodging, food or anything. It would be very bad if we have a thunderstorm.
Joe Kulp — We’ll try and watch. My wife and daughter are photographers and want to get great shots of it. Maybe they can get a shot in the Tidings page, like my uncle did once. That was so cool. We live on Crowson Road and that has a good view or we might go up the Greensprings a ways.
— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.