I have a vague memory of seeing an eclipse as a young girl. Since then, I have traveled to Libya, China, Norway and Oregon to see four total solar eclipses, and will travel again to see more. The most important first in eclipse planning is identifying the path of totality and cities nearest the center line. Literally, the difference between a total eclipse and a partial eclipse is day and night. The sooner you plan, the better. I planned for Svalbard two years before the eclipse. For the 2017 Oregon planning, I discovered that by 2015, more than half of hotels were already booked up. So yes, if the 2017 eclipse got you hooked on seeing another one, we are talking about planning for the next eclipse!
Mark your calendars now, because July 2, 2019 is when the next total solar eclipse occurs. The path of totality runs across the Pacific Ocean before heading over Chile and Argentina. But here’s a nice kicker if you have Chile and Argentina on your bucket list, but need more time to organize yourself. On December 14, 2020 a total eclipse also passes over these two countries with the point of greatest eclipse (2 min 10 sec) in Patagonia, Argentina. And that’s where I’ll be heading!
But what next? Do you plan it yourself or find a tour? I’m still researching how to proceed but am in the mindset of doing it myself. My eclipse chasing philosophy is: if it’s out of my comfort zone, I’ll find a tour. I did plan the 2009 China and the 2017 Oregon, and I’m not kidding when I say it’s a job that takes plenty of research, time, patience, lots of emails, lots of calls and may be even a prep visit if possible. For Libya and Svalbard, both difficult environments with limited viewing opportunity, I used and highly recommend my go-to organizers, TravelQuest International (www.travelquesttours.com).
Planning yourself? Then by all means, visit as many eclipse tour companies as possible. This will give you ideas about where experts think will be weather-wise clear with enough facilities to accommodate large numbers of eclipse chasers. And if you give up on self planning once you research, you’ll have a list of tours available to you at varying price points.
I’m not going to rehash the finer points of eclipse watching. That information can easily be found on the internet, however I will provide a few highly credible links. One of my favorite links is to Jay Anderson’s www.eclipsophile.com. Jay was one of the experts escorting the 2015 TravelQuest Inc. eclipse group in Svalbard, Norway. The NASA eclipse site is located at eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html.
Photos L to R: In the desert one hour south of Jalu, Libya 2006; Binhai Park Beach in Jinshan, China 2009; Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway 2015; and Spray, Oregon 2017. Photos are during first contact or after fourth contact, not during the totality.