Brigham Young University in Provo usually gets the most attention, but this weekend, the nation will turn their heads toward the home of BYU-Idaho as one of the best cities for viewing the 2017 total solar eclipse.
Aug. 21 marks the first solar eclipse to span the continuous United States since 1918. Americans will see the moon completely covering the sun from a 70-mile-wide path that spans from Oregon to South Carolina. Rexburg, Idaho lies in the center of the solar eclipse path and is approximately a four hour drive from Utah Valley, making it a prime place for astro-junkies to witness the total eclipse of the sun.
Whether you stay local or trek to Idaho, here are a few things you’ll want to know for the total experience.
Traveling to Rexburg, Idaho
BYU-Idaho expects 40,000 to 80,000 people to come to Rexburg to view the eclipse, according to an email sent to students asking for event volunteers. Accordingly, BYU-Idaho has made preparations in junction with the city of Rexburg to accommodate the visitors. They have arranged for viewing areas, extra lodging and food options. Click here for more details.
In response to the estimations of so many visitors to Rexburg for the weekend, BYU-Idaho has allowed BYU-Idaho approved housing to rent apartments to visitors. Click here for a list of participating complexes. Visitors to BYU-Idaho approved housing are expected to follow the BYU-Idaho approved housing rules during their stay.
Many lodging options for travelers are already full. One complex where there are still spaces available is Tuscany Place, owned by Nelson Brothers. The company also has available lodging in Eugene, Oregon.
Campsites and RV parks are also an option for those traveling to Rexburg. One tent and RV campsite in particular will donate their proceeds to cancer research. The Eclipse Camp 2017 near the Rexburg Super Walmart will donate their proceeds to the CrowdCare Foundation funding research for blood cancer immunotherapy. The Eclipse Camp 2017 will also host events for campers including a movie night, evening singalong, pancake breakfast and outdoor games.
With the national genesis toward the eclipse path this weekend, the U.S. Department of Transportation has published some suggestions for drivers during the event. They discourage drivers pulling off to the shoulder of the road to view and take pictures of the eclipse. If you would like to view the eclipse, exit the highway to a safe location. UDOT also recommends manually turning on headlights if you do drive during the eclipse.
The UDOT also offers some suggestions to drivers planning to travel for the eclipse. They predict 50,000 extra cars to travel on Utah highways this weekend in addition to the average 200,000 vehicles that use I-15 each day in Salt Lake County. Drivers should expect heavy congestion Friday afternoon and Sunday evening prior to the eclipse. The heaviest congestion is expected for Monday afternoon immediately after the eclipse. For travelers retuning to Utah, UDOT recommends saying a few extra hours or even an extra day after the eclipse to avoid the traffic.
Even though Utah Valley does not lie in the path of the total eclipse, a partial eclipse will still be visual throughout Utah Valley. The partial solar eclipse will be visible in Utah Valley from approximately 8:51 a.m. to 2:37 p.m. Approximately 11:33 a.m. will be the peak time when the moon will pass in front of the sun.
To see a simulation of what the eclipse will look like from anywhere in the United States, visit time.com and enter a zip code.
Like any other sunny day, looking directly into the sun during a partial eclipse can cause harm to the naked eye. If you will view the partial solar eclipse, make sure to get proper eye protection. NASA has released a guide for viewing a partial eclipse safely. For more information, click here.