TPOT? That stands for “the path of totality” and is an acronym that I’ve just coined. And will be using on Facebook for the next 12 days. #WYOMINGTPOT. Perhaps it will go viral with other states referring to their TPOTs.
One thing people need to remember about TPOT is that it is a 65-mile wide band. So, for example, if you’re in Wyoming, you don’t need to be right in Casper to see the total eclipse, or right in Wheatland or right in Torrington. (Those are all the cities that are close to Cheyenne – the same goes for Jackson, etc much further northwest.)
You can be probably 10 miles out of town and still see totality, although for a few seconds less than you’d see it if you were right over the center band.
Here’s a map that shows the band. The blue lines are the limits of how wide the band is, the red line is where the totality will last the longest.
In the map above, you an see the cities in between the blue lines – Jackson, Dubois, Lander, to the northwest, and the cities nearer to Cheyenne (my personal starting point), Casper, Douglas, Glendo and Torrington. Not shown on the map – Wheatland, an hour north of Cheyenne on I-25, just above Chugwater, is also in the path of totality.
But as you can see, as far as northeast Wyoming is concerned, the red line for most totality shows Casper and Douglas.
(If you were to follow that red line further east, it goes into Scottsbluff, Nebraska, as well.)
On the Road for the Total Eclipse?
If you don’t already have reservations for the night before the total eclipse, you are out of… well, I won’t say luck – luck has nothing to do with it. People made their reservations for this well ahead. (“Fail to plan, plan to fail.”)
The solution, and what I’m going to do, is get up extreeeemely early in the morning from whatever location you’re at that is within a couple of hours of the path of totality, and drive there.
It won’t do you any good to start for your destination with just a couple of hours to spare. Totality is going to occur just before noon. Don’t head for a location at ten am! Head out at six am! Or earlier!
Keep your sense of humor
Perhaps the most important advice anyone can give someone else, perhaps even more important than “make a plan” is to keep your sense of humor. If you start out too late or something happens and you find yourself in your car on a highway which has become a parking lot, don’t lose your temper or become frustrated. Chances are you’ll still be able to view 90% totality which should be pretty spectacular itself.
Some essentials for your car
I’ll go straight to the nitty gritty. If you’re in your car on your way to a city in the path of totality but you can’t get there, how are you going to relieve yourself? For a guy it’s easy. For a woman, not so much. I’ll be driving up to Torrington solo, and I’m going to leave early in the morning, but I’m going to wear a Depend brief. (It’s not only getting up there but getting home afterward. How much of a parking lot will the homeward journey be?)
If you’re going with some other people, bring a few blankets and if worse comes to worse ask your friends (assuming you know them well enough) to hold the blanket around you for privacy while you pee. This is because there are precious few trees near the sides of the roads that you can step behind for privacy.
(I just looked at Amazon. It’s too late now unless you order Rush Delivery, but there’s something called a Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Privacy Shelter – which is a narrow portable tent specifically for going the bathroom or changing one’s clothes in privacy. They are also portable toilets for use in an emergency (or for camping in a place without facilities). Frankly, if you’re a woman traveler and you like to go out in the wilderness, these two items may come in handy even in future.
Jacket – once the sun starts to be eclipsed, the temperature can fall as much as 10 degrees.
Blankets – to use once you reach your destination to relax on a public lawn, for example. Bring pillows also to take a nap in your car at a rest area if need be.
Lawn chair – something to sit on if you don’t feel comfortable stretched out on grass
Food and water – bring snacks that aren’t salty, since salty foods make you thirsty. Try to restrict your liquid intake until you’re in a town with public bathrooms.
ISO APPROVED GLASSES FOR WATCHING THE ECLIPSE
If you look at the inside of your glasses, the word ISO is typically on the end of the earpiece. ISO means International Organization for Standardization, and they develop standards that manufacturers must build items to. If you see CE: Cert BST11110429Y-IRC-4, that’s okay too. The Astronomical League has produced those glasses, and according to their website they meet ISO 12312:2015.
If you’re planning on taking photos of the eclipse, here’s a checklist from Sky and Telescope magazine of what to bring and how to take photos.