Are you a solar eclipse enthusiast with an organizational bent? An upcoming virtual workshop geared toward planning for the 2023 and 2024 events could be just the thing for you.
In a little more than three years’ time — on April 8, 2024 to be exact — the Sun will be blotted out of the sky for many excited viewers in North America. It will be the continent's first total solar eclipse in seven years, since totality last crossed the United States in August 2017.
What's more, six months earlier, on October 14, 2023, the new Moon will partially cover the solar disk leaving a ring of the Sun’s fire peeping out from behind in what’s known as an annular eclipse.
As we start the countdown to these events, we’re reminded of the myriad challenges involved when a whole nation becomes collectively inspired. Handling the surge of eager eclipse viewers into narrow tracks of totality, for example, requires careful planning. And those tracks cover large swaths of the continent. The path of annularity for the 2023 eclipse stretches from the Northwestern U.S. down through Texas and across Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula (continuing across Central America and northern South America). The path of totality in 2024 sweeps through northern Mexico, stretching across the U.S. into Canada. As in 2017, viewers in nearly all of North America will see at least a deep partial event during both eclipses.
To address these logistics, the American Astronomical Society has resurrected its Solar Eclipse Task Force (SETF). In the run-up to the August 2017 eclipse, the Task Force hosted a series of workshops, pulling together the disparate elements that come into play for an event of this magnitude. These included addressing eye safety (don’t ever look directly at the Sun without appropriate protection!), working with local communities to handle the flow of traffic into and out of the path of totality, and coordinating scientific, educational, and governmental organizations so as to ensure smooth cooperation between them.
As it looks ahead to 2023 and 2024, the SETF — in its current incarnation — held its first (in-person) workshop at the 234th AAS meeting in St. Louis, Missouri in June 2019. The global pandemic disrupted further plans, as it did in all sectors of life. The SETF has since regrouped to organize the next workshop — to be held virtually — on April 9–10, 2021.
Gleaning from lessons learned in 2017, the SETF is now forging ahead with preparations for nationwide events. Experts in eye safety, local and regional community planning, as well as representatives from national agencies such as NASA, will give talks and lead panel discussions on these issues and more at the April workshop.
This workshop is for you if you’re
- a professional / amateur astronomer
- a formal or informal educator
- a representative of
- tourism bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, the hospitality industry
- departments of transportation
- state- and national-parks and forests
- law enforcement
- emergency-management organizations
- an eclipse enthusiast who’d like to pitch in any way you can
and are interested in actively participating in the planning stages.
Signing up for the workshop is easy: Simply click on the link below. Note that there’s a $20 fee (however, the SETF may consider waiving it on a case by case basis — you can send an email to the SETF and let them know your situation).
Here are the details:
What: Virtual workshop to plan for the 2023 and 2024 eclipses
When: Friday April 9th and Saturday April 10th
Time (both days): 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. EDT / 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. PDT
- Click on the link and pay the $20 fee. If you’re not a member of the AAS, you’ll have to create an account if you don’t already have one — but you’re not required to join the Society.
- You’ll receive a confirmation email (as well as a receipt) with a link for filling out an attendee questionnaire, after which you’ll receive Zoom instructions.
Don’t hesitate to email the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force with any questions you may have.
We hope to see you in a couple weeks’ time!