2017 Eclipse Information From the AAS
The American Astronomical Society has put together a website with eclipse information for the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse. It has been 38 years (see below for the argument) since an eclipse path has passed over the continental USA. Please note that many motels and hotels are already filled, so it's not too soon to think about your eclipse travels. Also, please look at the [typical] weather and climate page. Sky and Telescope has a large number of articles already published.
Steward Astronomer Glenn Schneider is one of the great eclipse chasers, and he has a rather spectacular website HERE. Glenn provided comments that allow us to argue that the last version of the upcoming eclipse (so many people in USA being able to view) was in 1918 or 1925. (note, TSE= total solar eclipse. CONUS = Continental USA.) "(1) The last TSE to be seen from the CONUS was Feb 26, 1979 -- 38 years ago. (2) TSE 1990 path of totality went over tiny island of Atka, Alaska (2/3 the way out on the Aleutian chain). That was it. It was raining. I know, I was there getting clouded out. (3) TSE 1991 was visible from the big island of Hawaii (only place in the USA). Most people there (on the Kona Coast) were clouded out - it was seen from Mauna Kea. (4) There have been no other TSEs in the CONUS at all since 1979. (5) TSE 1979 did *NOT* "pass over much of the USA", it was visible in the CONUS only from the NW - 4 states: Washington, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota. TSE 2017 will traverse the country from Oregon to South Carolina over 14 states. (6) The "most recent" TSE to have a comparable country-crossing path was June 8, 1918 (99 years ago) that (also) diagonally went from the NW (Washington/Oregon) all the way through Florida. Note: Because of (6) you could say "It has been 99 years since a total solar eclipse path has passed over so much of the USA" - but would need some explanation as there were TSEs over the USA between 1990 and 1918, just not so "much" of it (that would be correct). E.g., TSE1970 went up the eastern sea board from north central Florida (cloudy) to Virginia (clear) + Nantucket, MA. TSE 1925 went from Minnesota through Eastern Massachussets - and was visible as total from part of New York City (north of 96th Street in Manhattan)." [The January 2017 Sky and Telescope has an article about the 1925 eclipse. We have yet to find it online.]
And for completeness, there are some eclipses that were left out in the first incarnation of this set of Glenn's commentary: July 20, 1963 - Totality visible from parts of Maine (only); Oct 2, 1959 - Totality visible from part of Massachusetts; June 30, 1954 - Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesotta, Wisconsin; July 9, 1945 - Idaho and Montana; Aug 31, 1932 - Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, part of Mass.; Jan 24, 1925 - mentioned prior.; Sept 10, 1923 - just the very SW corner of California (San Diego, but was cloudy).
We're grateful to Glenn for allowing us to post his commentary.