Mark your calendar for Wednesday, November 9th, when you'll get great background info and travel tips for America's coast-to-coast total solar eclipse.

2017 eclipse track with partial phases
The path of the Moon's shadow on August 21, 2017, will cut through or clip 14 states during its coast-to-coast crossing.
Michael Zeiler /

Maybe you've always been curious about why everyone gets excited about total solar eclipses.

Maybe you're thinking about traveling to see the one next August 21st, but you're not sure where to go.

Maybe you'll be stuck at home but still want to enjoy views of that day's partial eclipse.

Whatever your motivation, join me next Wednesday, November 9th, at 2:00 p.m. EST (19:00 Universal Time) for a live, interactive webinar that'll give you the Why, What, Where, and How of the total solar eclipse that will cross the continental U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina next August 21st.

"But that's still more than 10 months away," some of you are saying to yourselves. That's true. But next year's eclipse is a bona fide Big Deal, and you're going to want to be part of it. It's already become an obsession with untold thousands of amateur astronomers around the world — all of whom are planning to be in the 70-mile-wide path of totality.

Total solar eclipse in 2010
The Sun's corona (tenuous atmosphere) displayed many delicate streamers during the total solar eclipse on July 11, 2010.
Sky & Telescope / Dennis Di Cicco

The buzz is totally justified. Few spectacles in nature are as dramatic as watching the Moon's silhouetted disk gradually slide across the Sun's disk and then cover it completely. Only during totality can you see the gossamer strands of the corona, the Sun's incandescent atmosphere, surrounding a black bullet hole in the sky where the Sun's disk ought to be.

It's been a long time coming. The Moon's full shadow hasn't passed over any U.S. soil since 1991 (Hawaii) nor across any part of the contiguous 48 states since 1979 (Pacific Northwest). Moreover, a total solar eclipse hasn't run coast to coast across the U.S. since 1918.

Because this eclipse occurs in America's backyard, you might be tempted just to pick a spot along the path of totality, fly to a nearby airport, and rent a car. That might work, but hotels in some well-positioned towns are already completely sold out. So if you want to stand in the Moon's shadow, start planning now!

What this Total Solar Eclipse Webinar Covers

To make that easier, my live hour-long webinar will provide a lively introduction to solar eclipses, past and future, and give you an opportunity to ask me questions about how best to observe the one next year. You'll learn:

• What causes solar eclipses
• Where the path of the Moon's shadow crosses the United States
• Which past eclipses crossed the U.S.
• How to view a solar eclipse safely
• What's the best strategy for finding a good viewing spot

. . . and plenty more. (Hint: you'll learn how to impress your friends with the word exeligmos.) Please note: This webinar will not cover specifics of how to photograph an eclipse — that's a topic for a future webinar. But if you're looking forward to enjoying this event and want some viewing help or travel tips, you'll get a lot out of this webinar.

Celebrating totality in 2009
I'm a happy guy after witnessing a total solar eclipse from a ship situated near Iwo Jima in 2009. Totality lasted 6m39s — the longest of any eclipse in the 21st century.
Cheryl Beatty

All you need is a computer or other device and an Internet connection. You’ll be able to view and hear my presentation live — and you'll get to ask questions too. If you can't join me live, the presentation will be archived so that you can download it later.

In case you're curious, I'm a veteran eclipse-chaser, having traveled to see 11 total and 6 annular eclipses. I've seen totality three times from aboard ship and three times from an airplane. These travels have taken me to Europe, Africa, Asia, and even over the North and South Poles!

So let me share my experiences — and experience — with you. Again, here's the signup link for the webinar.