Will Smoke Affect Rare Eclipse Viewing?


We're just a little over one week away from the biggest astronomical event in nearly a century.

But with our skies still filled with smoke, many are concerned they'll see more haze than eclipse.

On August 21st millions of Americans will look to the sky for the rare eclipse.

But here in the Northwest many are wondering what they'll even be able to see through all this smoke.

Thousands are expected to travel into the path of totality in our area, where the full eclipse will be visible.

But the west coast of North America is also the hardest hit this fire season.

Melissa Rhein says, "Unfortunately most of Idaho is seeing impacts from smoke at this time. Even in our nearby regions, Oregon as well, they're getting smoke."

At this point it's hard to say how that smoke will impact eclipse visibility.

Idaho DEQ air quality analyst Melissa Rhein says it's unlikely the smoke will clear much before the celestial event.

Rhein says, "Any type of cover, including cloud cover or, as we've been seeing for the last few weeks’ smoke in our region, is going to diminish what you would see with the eclipse."

She says it's still too early to tell how smoky things will be by August 21st, but according to these satellite images, there was less smoke on Friday than 24 hours previous.

This map shows where smoke impacts are the lightest.

Rhein says, "If someone were to travel east, away from the smoke impacts."

Southern Idaho and to the east appear to be the least covered. However, Rhein says travel isn't 100% necessary.

Rhein says, "At this point I think you'll still be able to recognize that it's a solar eclipse, but you might not get that full 100% view."

Weather patterns and fire activity are the main factors that will really play into how much smoke blocks our view, so as for the day of the eclipse, we'll just have to wait and see.

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