Today Alaska Airlines is operating a very special flight between Anchorage and Honolulu. Their usual flight 870 will be delayed by 25 minutes in order to coincide with a total solar eclipse crossing the Pacific Ocean at the same time. Passengers will be able to experience a rare treat — thanks to some cooperation between astronomers and Alaska Airlines.
The great thing about eclipses is that they are easy to predict once you know a little about celestial mechanics. Various websites can tell you where they’ll pass years into the future. And I figure, what better use of miles — besides visiting family — than to travel and get experiences like this that you can’t have anywhere else?
When one astronomer in New York saw that Alaska Airlines’ flight to Hawaii would cross the path of this particular eclipse, he contacted the airline. A small adjustment in schedule should be enough to make sure the passengers enjoy a unique experience.
I’ve never seen a solar eclipse, partial or total. It’s a fleeting experience because, unlike a lunar eclipse, one must be in a very specific part of the world in order to see it. In fact, I considered trying to relocate myself to Indonesia in order to view this eclipse but even then it’s possible that I wouldn’t see much.
While it may be too late for many people to book themselves on this particular Alaska Airlines flight, even I only learned about it late last week. I’d like to point you toward an even better opportunity.
On August 21, 2017, there will be a total solar eclipse that crosses the continental United States. Starting near Portland, Oregon, and continuing across North America to South Carolina, this could be your best chance in years. There is a narrow geographical window if you wish to see a total solar eclipse. A hundred miles north or south would be enough to significantly limit your view.
I wouldn’t put much faith in Portland given the overcast weather we often get here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also a little far north. However, this particular eclipse will pass almost directly over Nashville, Tennessee, in the early afternoon. That’s about as good as it gets.
Again, move a few miles toward Springfield and your viewing experience will improve. Still, Nashville will be one of the few major cities to experience a “totality” — the period when the sun is completely obscured.
Nashville sounds like a great destination for a summer vacation, and it will coincide with this unique experience. If you happen to live in Seattle, Alaska Airlines offers daily non-stop service, but there are many other ways to get to BNA, as well.
- Seattle to Nashville: departing at 9:30 a.m. / arriving at 4:05 p.m.
- Nashville to Seattle: departing at 5:05 p.m. / arriving at 8:20 p.m.