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Solar eclipse to darken county Monday

‘It’s living science — a once-in-a-lifetime event’

This map depicts where viewers can expect 100 percent coverage for the Aug. 21 eclipse.

Credit: Xavier Jubier,
This map depicts where viewers can expect 100 percent coverage for the Aug. 21 eclipse.

Some web sites to check out; glasses available

• To view and print out an Idaho eclipse family checklist, and view an eclipse public service announcement, go to the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) webpage

• To see what time the eclipse will occur: and type in your city and state and

• To find the very best places to view the eclipse, log onto

• Need eclipse glasses? Good luck. Everywhere the Free Press checked in Idaho County was out, as was The Lewiston Tribune. Call us if you find any: 208-983-1200.

If you haven’t done it already, mark your calendars. Idaho is about to be witness to something spectacular. On Monday, Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will occur for the first time in nearly a century. This will cause the sun to “disappear” for just a few minutes during the middle of the day, making it seem like night.

Idaho is in the path of totality, meaning many areas in the state will experience a total eclipse/darkness. In Idaho County, that degree of darkness will be about 94 percent, called a partial eclipse. Some places such as Weiser, Challis, Stanley, Cascade, Ketchum and Driggs, will experience the 100 percent coverage and are expected to be hotspots for travelers.

In the Idaho County area, the eclipse countdown will start at 9:12 a.m. with maximum view at 10:27 a.m., ending at 11:47 a.m.

Although Idaho County isn’t in the path of totality, don’t be disappointed. A good view – if wildfire smoke or weather conditions do not obscure it – will still be available locally.

“Idaho is considered one of the best places to view this event,” said Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, in a recent press release.

Beside visitors coming in to the state, locals are also planning for the once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Kamiah real estate agent and photographer Robert Millage will take to the backroads with his two sons.

“We are going to try and do a backcountry road trip down through the middle of Idaho, Salmon River, French Creek, Warren, Schaffer on South Fork of Salmon, up to Elk Summit and then Yellowpine, then to Bear Valley above Lowman for Eclipse,” he said. “That’s the rough plan. anyways.”

Others will have visitors coming in to Idaho for the experience.

“My family is very excited to share this experience with friends from New York City, Texas and Wisconsin who are traveling here to Idaho for the eclipse,” said Lara Smith of Lowell, Clearwater Valley Elementary School librarian and co-owner of Western Motor Inn in Kooskia with husband, Mike.

The Smiths have four daughters, elementary on up to high school ages, and Lara Smith said this is an experience she does not want them to miss.

“It’s living science — a once-in-a-lifetime event. We are so fortunate to live in its path,” she said. “Anytime we can share these moments with our kids, teach them, laugh with them and make could you possibly pass this up?”

Smith has been using an ap on her phone that lets her get eclipse news and tells her in what areas of the state (or anywhere in the world) the eclipse will be best viewed (

“I’m on the Idaho Travel Council, and we have been looking forward to this very unique weekend for years,” she added.

In the path of totality, the moon completely covers the sun and the sky darkens dramatically, making it appear to be nightfall. Idaho is considered a prime viewing area because skies are generally clear throughout the state this time of year.

With a path of totality of more than 300 miles, Idaho is one of 14 U.S. states over which the eclipse will cross. The total solar eclipse begins in Oregon and exits the continent in South Carolina.

“While we want Idahoans and visitors to our state to enjoy this event, we want to make sure everyone stays safe and has a plan, including being prepared for traffic delays and crowds,” said Governor Otter. “I can’t encourage folks enough to stay informed. That’s why we have resources available so you can do that now.”

A total solar eclipse is when a new moon comes between the sun and the earth, casting a shadow across earth. This means that for a few minutes during midday on Aug. 21, it will seem almost like night time. The eclipse will start at the Oregon coastline and make its way across the country to South Carolina’s coastline. In Idaho, the eclipse is set to occur

Idaho won’t see another solar eclipse for another 152 years.

Even as Idaho County is outside the path of totality, eye specialists warn to always use solar filters.

Dr. Joel Brown and Dr. Jill Lane, eye doctors in Grangeville, want to reinforce that the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters or other ISO-certified filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers.

“If you stare at the sun without protection, you may experience damage to your retina — the tissue at the back of your eye — which can result in permanent or temporary vision loss,” Brown and Lane said.


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