I want to tell you about the last time the region experienced a total eclipse of the sun. Picture it. It’s February 26, 1979. A Monday. And for weeks… no, years—decades, really—media outlets quoting astronomers have told you that this morning will be unlike any other in your life. A solar eclipse, when the moon obscures the sun, will visit Seattle. It’s billed as the last such eclipse of the century.
At 8:15am it happens. The moon arcs across the sun, the collision of two disks. Later, further east, when the eclipse turns day into virtual night—so dark that stars are visible, so dark that the planet Venus materializes—observers are described as “spellbound.” Over Seattle the eclipse is 99.6 total, like the most inclusive Venn diagram ever.
And you don’t see it.
A Pacific frontal system has rolled in, blotting out the sky with gray clouds. You don’t see the beautiful halo that blasts around the sun. You don’t see stars. The only indication that anything has occurred is a dimming of the sky. Your next chance will be 38 years from now.
Well, here we are. Thirty-eight years later. An eclipse will visit Seattle this summer. August 21, 2017, to be exact, during the month we rely on for clear skies around here. This is bound to be the summer of a lifetime.
You can learn all about the eclipse in this issue, but to ensure that it is the summer of a lifetime we’ve put together an additional 20 pages, starting on page 39. From Mariners games to outdoor concerts and patios to ice cream—so much ice cream—here you’ll find your summer game plan. All you have to do after that is show up. And hope, come August 21, the clouds don’t.