A total solar eclipse is coming to Wyoming, as are many eclipse viewers from around the globe, in 22 weeks and two days. If you doubt me just go to https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/ for an official countdown.
First, a few notes about the eclipse, according to NASA, “The location along the path of totality that will experience the longest time in the moon’s umbral shadow is near Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois; there, the maximum duration will be 2 minutes and 40 seconds, which is just slightly less than average for a solar eclipse. It is possible, however, for totality of a solar eclipse to last as long as just over seven and a half minutes, though totality lasting for more than seven minutes is very rare.”
What is it about an eclipse that has everyone going giddy?
According to NASA, “A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. On Monday, August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) across all of North America. The whole continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting two to three hours. Halfway through the event, anyone within a 60 to 70 mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total eclipse. During those brief moments when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds, day will turn into night, making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona (the sun’s outer atmosphere). Bright stars and planets will become visible as well. This is truly one of nature’s most awesome sights.”
Because of the rarity of a total solar eclipse, some cities, including Casper, have been preparing for the impact of visitors coming for the eclipse for more than a year. Wyoming’s population, by some estimates, could nearly double as the band of totality runs from Grand Teton National Park to Torrington.
Wyoming has been touted for prime eclipse viewing, in part because of our clear skies in August, but I think also in part to its wide open spaces and the number of public areas to view the eclipse.
Thermopolis is just inside the band of totality with about 53 seconds of totality expected and more than two minutes at Boysen State Park. Casper is expected to have 2:20 in totality.
Thermopolis is gearing up for many visitors as is Boysen State Park. Worland has just begun discussions with the Worland-Ten Sleep Chamber of Commerce working to help prepare businesses and residents for what should be an influx of visitors in August.
The eclipse falls just two days after the 12th annual Pepsi Wyoming BBQ Championship and Bluegrass Festival and a week after Nowoodstock. People are expecting more visitors to these events as eclipse visitors make their way to Wyoming.
Several hotels in Worland are completely booked on Sunday, Aug. 20.
With all the planning and advanced notice, some still say there won’t be any impact in Worland. They may be right, but it’s best to plan for a huge number of visitors and be prepared to accommodate them, rather than be surprised and left with egg on our face as a community.
Businesses need to be prepared to have extra supplies, consider expanding hours for that weekend before and perhaps the day of and the day after.
Residents have been encouraged to go shopping early for groceries and supplies, making sure your vehicles are fueled up in case there is a shortage.
The solar eclipse is a rare event so no one can predict exactly what the impact will be until it happens.
But remember the old adage, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Whether we have five more visitors this summer or 500, we as a community want to put our best foot forward.
We want to showcase what we have and that Worland is a great place to stay and visit and base out of for your eclipse viewing. Worland is just a quick jaunt to Thermopolis or Boysen and before or after the eclipse there is plenty to do in the area — Castle Gardens, rock climbing in Ten Sleep, a visit to the Big Horn Mountains for fishing and wildlife viewing, Pryor Mountain mustangs and Devils Canyon near Lovell, Heart Mountain Relocation Center near Powell, and there’s plenty to do and see around Thermopolis with Legend Rock, Wyoming Dinosaur Center and, of course, Hot Springs State Park. There are also the many wonderful museums around the Big Horn Basin, as well as hiking opportunities.
Let’s be prepared to welcome any and all visitors to our community.