In the busy rush of life, it can be challenging to find opportunities to profoundly connect with nature. There is nowhere better situated to acquaint yourself with the majesty of our natural world than the American West. Its uninterrupted view of the stars, its diverse wildlife and its rich geologic landscape offers a unique setting in which to marvel at nature.
Each tour includes a designated tour advisor, a dedicated, experienced guide and luxury transportation. Our guides are professionally-trained, CPR and First Aid certified, and vastly knowledgeable about the parks, their geology, history and offerings. They can assist you in finding trails and activities within the parks that suit your individual interests, desired pace of activities, and ability levels.
We can’t wait to share the wonders of the American West with you!
How to View a Solar Eclipse Safely
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon blocks any part of the Sun’s bright face. On Saturday, October 14, 2023, a solar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) in North, Central, and South America. All 49 continental U.S. states will experience at least a partial eclipse, as will most of Canada and all countries in Central and South America.
During a partial or annular (ring) solar eclipse, such as the one on October 14, 2023, there is no time when it is safe to look directly at the Sun without using a special-purpose solar filter that complies with the transmittance requirements of the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
What causes a solar eclipse?
The first fact to understand about solar eclipses is that they occur because of a remarkable cosmic coincidence: the Sun is about the same apparent size in our sky as the Moon. While the Sun is actually about 400 times larger in diameter than the Moon, the Moon is also about 400 times closer than the Sun. Therefore, the Sun and the Moon appear to be about the same size in our sky.
This single fact explains why we see total solar eclipses – the Moon has an apparent size that just barely covers the Sun completely, yet is not too large that the Sun’s atmosphere, its corona, is eclipsed as well. We on Earth occupy a celestial sweet spot to witness this sight. We are the beneficiaries of a wonderful cosmic coincidence, lined up like a cosmic billiard shot.
It was not always so. When the Moon first formed around our Earth over 4 billion years ago, it was much closer to the Earth and appeared much larger in our sky. So total solar eclipses in the early epochs of our Earth did block the Sun but also most of the corona. Over the eons, the Moon has been gradually receding from the Earth due to the friction from the tides. At present, the distance from the Earth to the Moon increases by about an inch per year. In some distant future epoch, the Moon’s disk will become smaller such that no more total solar eclipses will be visible from Earth.
What are the types of solar eclipses?
While the Moon and Sun have nearly the same apparent size in the sky, their apparent sizes do vary slightly because of two factors; the Moon is in a slightly elliptical orbit around the Earth and the Earth also revolves in a slightly elliptical orbit around the Sun. These variations result in the circumstance that sometimes the Moon’s disk does not completely cover the Sun’s disk during the eclipse. These are annular solar eclipses and a prominent example of this eclipse type occurred in the United States on May 20, 2012. The next annular solar eclipse in the United States will be on October 14, 2023.
While an annular eclipse is a striking sight, it does not command the same overwhelming sense of wonder that a total solar eclipse does. Daytime is dimmer but not twilight. Because some of the Sun’s disk is still visible, it is much too bright for the Sun’s corona to become visible. It is never safe to look directly at an annular solar eclipse, even at its maximum phase. Always use certified safe solar eclipse glasses.
If the Moon’s shadow is not centered on the Earth, then another common type of solar eclipse occurs the partial solar eclipse. During a partial solar eclipse, the umbra misses the Earth, and from everywhere the eclipse is visible, you will only see part of the Sun eclipsed. Again, at no time during a partial solar eclipse should you look directly at the Sun without certified safe eclipse glasses, solar filtered viewer like our sunoculars or a pinhole projection.