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Review - Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21

Posted: 22 May 2017


Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21
by Fred Espenak and Jay Anderson
Copyright ©2015, 145 pages Astropixels Publishing

This "Eclipse Bulletin" written by "Mr. Eclipse" Fred Espenak and meteorologist Jay Anderson contains a lot of useful information for this year's Total Solar Eclipse. This description from the Preface provides a brief synopsis of the book's contents:

It contains tables presenting the umbral shadow path coordinates, a physical ephemeris of the umbra, local circumstances on the central line, topocentric data and path corrections due to the lunar limb profile, and mapping coordinates for the zones of grazing eclipse. High-resolution maps plot the total eclipse path across the USA. They show hundreds of cities and towns in the path, the location of major roads and highways, and the duration of totality with distance from the central line.

Local circumstance tables for more than 1000 cities within the USA provide times of each phase of the eclipse along with the eclipse magnitude and duration. Additional tables cover the eclipse circumstances for cities in Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America as well as Western Europe and North Africa. An exhaustive climatological investigation identifies locations along the eclipse path where the highest probability of favorable weather may be found. Finally, a site inspection report highlights interesting locations along the eclipse track from Oregon to South Carolina.

The major sections of the book from the Table of Contents are:

  Eclipse Predictions and Umbral Path
  Local Circumstances for the Eclipse
  Detailed Maps of the Umbral Path
  Observing and Photographing the Eclipse
  Climatology along the Umbral Path
  A Travelogue along the Umbral Path
  Eclipse Resources
  Eclipse Marketplace

There are three versions of this book available from Astropixels Publishing: a standard black and white edition ($20; reviewed here), deluxe color edition ($35), and a digital edition ($30; PDF).

In section 1.5 "Description of the Umbral Path" there is an excellent word description covering several land areas shown in the accompanying multi-state maps. For example, this is how one area is described along with its map:

The central line passes through the south side of Casper (pop. 59,600) where the total eclipse lasts 2 minutes 26 seconds centered on 17:44 UT1 (11:44 MDT). This is 14 seconds shy of the longest possible duration that occurs 1600 km (980 mi) to the east in Illinois. The path width in Casper is 110 km (68 mi), the shadow velocity is 0.74 km/s (1655 mi/hr), and the Sun has an altitude of 54°. Because of its strategic location in the eclipse path, the Astronomical League has chosen Casper to host their national convention in the days preceding the eclipse.


You can use these word descriptions to help you locate the viewing site that best appeals to you (assuming you have not already made that selection).

Besides word descriptions there are many technical details of the Eclipse in the book. Two tables shown here (in part) give you an idea what's included:



Section 2 "Local Circumstances for the Eclipse" and section 3 "Detailed Maps of the Umbral Path" (showing cities, towns, and major roadways) will provide you with accurate planning information for the Eclipse and can be used if weather conditions dictate a change in your plan on the day of the Eclipse.

Section 4 "Observing and Photographing the Eclipse" begins with an excellent discussion of proper and safe filters for viewing the partial phases of the eclipse. Heed this information to protect your eyes and equipment. It then moves on to tips and techniques for photographing the eclipse. There is a table of exposure settings to be used as starting points for your eclipse photography.

While the previous sections relied on precise math and science for the elipse data presented, Section 5 "Climatology along the Umbral Path" uses historical weather data and patterns to make educated guesses on Eclipse Day weather. This was done in 2015; talk about a long range weather forecast! There is a good description of terrain effects on local weather for many places along the Path of Totality.

Section 6 "A Travelogue along the Umbral Path" is your guide to some specific scenic and important locations along the Path of Totality. If you haven't picked out your observing location yet this chapter will be useful. But keep in mind that thousands (millions, in some cases) of other people will be staking out their locations too.

Section 7 "Eclipse Resources", "Bibliography", and "Eclipse Marketplace" wrap up this excellent book. The web sites, books, and companies listed will expand and enhance your planning and ultimate enjoyment of the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21.


If you haven't yet started planning for the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21 this book is a must-have item. If you know where you will be on 21 August the book will still useful on Eclipse Day in case your local weather conditions make it necessary to change your plans at the last minute. For everyone, this book provides lots of very helpful information to ensure you will be thrilled by viewing and photographing a Total Solar Eclipse.

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