• 2017 Total Solar Eclipse
    2017 Total Solar Eclipse

    Visitors poured into the Grand Island area on August 21, 2017, to see the great American eclipse. This image of the diamond ring effect was taken at the city's main event at Stuhr Museum.

  • Diverse and happy crowds
    Diverse and happy crowds

    People came to Grand Island from almost every state and from at least a dozen countries around the world.

  • Tailor-made viewing spot
    Tailor-made viewing spot

    Stuhr Museum really was a tailor-made spot for an eclipse festival.

Gem Over the Prairie

by Dan Glomski, senior educator at Aurora’s Edgerton Explorit Center.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse crossed the continental United States for the first time in 99 years. Grand Island, located squarely within the path of the Moon’s shadow, was a prime eclipse-viewing location.

A total solar eclipse ranks among the most spectacular events a person can witness in a lifetime. The Moon passes directly in front of the Sun, covering the solar disk. Day briefly turns into night – twilight, actually – before the Moon’s motion around Earth begins to unveil the Sun, allowing direct sunlight to bathe the landscape once again.

I was in Grand Island during the Total Solar Eclipse. I viewed it at Prairie Museum. It was really fantastic, and I will never forget this experience.

– Eclipse visitor from Italy

Most people have seen nothing like this before. It’s an incredibly dramatic, eerie event that can literally make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

The eclipse path – approximately 70 miles wide – crosses the country from Oregon to South Carolina. This is the first time the Moon’s shadow has traversed the United States coast-to-coast since 1918. Millions of Americans are located either inside the path or within a day’s drive, and with thousands of visitors from outside the United States, this was likely the most-viewed total solar eclipse in history.

Grand Island was an enticing location for eclipse viewers. The Moon completely covered the Sun for 2 minutes and 35 seconds, within six seconds of the event’s maximum duration (in southern Illinois and western Kentucky).

Grand Island averages 225 sunny days a year according to the National Climatic Data Center. The odds of clear viewing from Grand Island are approximately 70-75%. Many people will believe they've seen a total eclipse before, or that a deep partial eclipse is close enough. However, the most spectacular eclipse phenomena (corona, surrounding twilight, etc) happens only during a total eclipse. The difference between a total eclipse and a partial eclipse is night and day – literally!

How Rare are total solar eclipses?

  • Next total solar eclipse in Grand Island: 31 July 2744
  • Last total solar eclipse in Nebraska: 30 June 1954
  • Next total solar eclipse in Nebraska: 3 May 2106
  • Last total solar eclipse in continental U.S. 26: February 1979
  • Next total solar eclipse in continental U.S. 8: April 2024
  • Next total solar eclipse visible anywhere on Earth: 2 July 2019 (South Pacific, Argentina)
  • Average period of time between total solar eclipses in one spot: 380 years
  • Average period of time between total solar eclipses on Earth: ~1.3 years (67 in the 21st century)