Living in Space City brings a responsibility for being informed about manned space missions.  I am on a plane headed to Los Angeles but I fully expect when I land to be quizzed all about the #NewAstronaut candidates that NASA is bringing to Houston/Johnson Space Center for two years of training. Thank goodness for in-flight WiFi.  Watch Live NOW on NASA TV


Totality Awesome!

Hooray!!  Another rewarding school year is now a beautiful memory and it is time to experience the wonder of the natural world up close and personal this summer.  My first blog post for the Summer of 2017 is actually not an experience YET but… a plan.  A BIG PLAN.  A plan that I encourage you all to consider making as well. Quickly.

On Monday, August 21st, our moon will totally eclipse the sun for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds along a thin pathway of totality that crosses our country from coast to coast. The last total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. covered only a small portion (Pacific NW & Montana) on February 26, 1979 but it was mostly cloud covered.  A cloud free total solar eclipse crossed the continental U.S. on March 7, 1970.  I have vague memories of witnessing this eclipse just outside the line of totality as a 7 year old living in North Carolina.

But, on August, 21, 2017, Mr. Caldwell and I will be directly IN THE PATH of totality for what is being nicknamed “The Great American Eclipse” in the small Oregon town of Madras.  Actually we will arrive there on Friday, August 18th to get into position before the likely traffic jams.Table 1


Being as close to the center line of totality (red line above) is key to experiencing a total solar eclipse.  In the band of totality you will encounter complete darkness as the moon comes between the Earth and the Sun.  Watch this great NASA video for a scientific explanation and safe viewing tips!
NASA Solar Eclipse Video


Positioning for viewing within the band of totality allows you to witness the sun’s awe inspiring corona (outer atmosphere) and the celestial objects that are obscured during the day due to “light pollution” from our closest star, the Sun.  The image below shows the position of the stars and planets that will be visible for the few minutes that our Sun is eclipsed by the moon.

Planets-and-stars-visible-during-totality-as-seen-from-Wyoming-e1477481376419Mr. Caldwell and I spent a fair amount of time researching optimal viewing sites for this total solar eclipse and landed on Madras, Oregon due to its higher probability of clear skies, airfare, lodging economics/comfort, and NASA’s endorsement.  We waffled back and forth between several locations in Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming but are ultimately happy with our choice and now are hopeful for cooperating weather conditions.


We will be camping in a farmer’s field just north of the airport in Madras, Oregon.  Our chosen location is supported as part of a local event called Oregon Solarfest.  Here is the promo video for the location.
Video: Madras Oregon: Solarfest 2017
Maybe we’ll see you there?  Make your plans NOW.

Can’t make the 2017 solar eclipse?  You’re young!  You can wait 7 more years.  The next one passes right over the GREAT STATE!