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The 2017 Solar Eclipse Tour 1
8 days - by Air

Price from £2,199.00 per person*
Departs 18th Aug 2017

Single person supplement : £400.00 per person

On 21 August, 2017, the Moon's shadow will scribe a path west to east across the continental USA, revealing one of the sky's most majestic spectacles; a total eclipse of the Sun.

This is the Holy Grail for eclipse chasers, the moment when the Moon drifts in front of our nearest star, descending us into darkness as the Sun's light is totally blocked from view. Only when you experience totality will you see Baily's beads, the awesome diamond ring effect, prominences and the spectacular solar corona – all with the naked eye. With the Sun's light diminished, stars and planets also start to appear and local wildlife is tricked into thinking night has descended early, reacting as it would around twilight.

For a total solar eclipse to take place, the Sun, Moon and Earth must be in a straight line. The Earth's and Moon's elliptical orbits and the relatively small size of the Moon's shadow on the Earth's surface means that full solar eclipses happen infrequently and typically require you to travel to see them. When they occur over inhabited parts of the world, they become accessible to many and offer a shared experience that is not to be missed. The last total eclipse of the Sun visible from the USA occurred in 1991 and that was only visible from parts of Hawaii. The last seen from the contiguous states of the USA occurred in 1979. The 2017 total solar eclipse path will cross the USA from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast – the first total solar eclipse to do this since 1918.

To celebrate this rare event, Omega has put together a series of tours which include eclipse–watching as part of the itinerary. We are fortunate to have close links with the BBC's Pete Lawrence and a number of other professional astronomers. Each tour will be supported by their vast knowledge and expertise as we attempt to take you as close to the centre–line of the eclipse path as possible.

On our two longer 2017 tours, the eclipse–watching will take place slightly north of Idaho Falls, very close to the centre–line. The weather prospects in this region are among the best along the entire eclipse path, and with many other tour highlights located relatively nearby, this is a perfect vantage point for the 2017 eclipse. On the centre–line, the length of totality here will be 2 minutes 18 seconds.

On the short tour we will watch the eclipse in or near Clarksville. The weather prospects here are still excellent and being close to the point of greatest eclipse, totality will last for a maximum of 2 minutes and 40 seconds. As with all our tours we plan to locate sites as close to the centre–line of the eclipse path as practically possible.


What in heaven are...?

Totality is the part of a total solar eclipse when Sun is hidden from view by the Moon.

Baily's Beads are bright, star–like points of light that occur at the start and end of totality. They occur when bright sunlight shines through low points in the Moon's rugged edge.

The Diamond Ring Effect occurs at the start and end of totality when the last and first bit of sunlight shining past the Moon's edge appears like a brilliant diamond. A glow around the entire circumference of the Moon completes the effect, making it look as if there's an impressive diamond ring hanging in the sky.

Prominences are huge clouds of glowing hydrogen held above the Sun's surface by magnetic forces. The striking thing about them is that they appear with an intense red–pink colour.

The Solar Corona (the Sun's 'crown') is the tenuous outer atmosphere of the Sun. This can only normally be seen by specialist equipment, typically from space. During a total solar eclipse, the corona's beautiful, highly structured glow can be seen surrounding the Sun and extending off into space.


Our Expert Astronomers

Pete Lawrence's passion for astronomy began when he was a young boy, around the time of the Apollo moon landings, and he has always been an active observer of the night sky. He started imaging the night sky with digital cameras in the 1990s and soon became established as a leading digital astrophotographer. Along with many entries on the renowned www.spaceweather.com website, he has also had a number of his images published on the prestigious NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day site. He also holds an award for Astronomy Picture of the Year for 2007. In 2014, Pete was awarded the prestigious Davies Medal by the Royal Photographic Society for making significant contributions in the field of digital imaging.

Since 2005, Pete has been a regular presenter on the BBC's 'The Sky at Night' and in 2012 co–authored 'The New Astronomy Guide' with his friend and colleague, the late Sir Patrick Moore. Also in 2005, Pete was asked to join Sky at Night magazine to write their monthly Sky Guide. He still compiles the guide every month as well as writing mainstream articles on varied astronomical topics and carrying out equipment reviews. Pete acts as a consultant for the BBC's Stargazing Live and writes scripts and copy for BBC Learning in conjunction with the programme. He also authors most of the main booklet that accompanies the series. For series one, this booklet held the record of the most downloaded resource from a BBC website. Pete also compiles the monthly star charts for the Daily Telegraph and The Times newspapers.

In the winter of 2005, Pete accompanied his first Northern Lights flight run by Omega Holidays and was invited to join the flight team. He now accompanies more than 4,000 people to see the elusive lights every year. Pete also acts as an expert guide on other Omega trips including ground–based aurora hunting expeditions and eclipse holidays.


Dr Paul Abel was an amateur astronomer by the age of 12 and it was around this time he became friends with the late Sir Patrick Moore. After training as a mathematician and conducting PhD research in an area of Theoretical Physics concerned with evaporating black holes, Paul is currently an astronomer based in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Leicester.

Paul co–presented the BBC's 'The Sky at Night' for a number of years and has had many articles published in the BBC Sky at Night magazine. Other TV appearances include Blue Peter and the Chelsea Flower Show, and he is also frequently heard on BBC Radio. His observatory (aka shed!) houses an 8–inch Newtonian reflector which is mostly used to observe the Moon and planets, and he is well–known for the colour drawings he produces from these observations. Paul has lectured widely on topics such as black holes, the planets, and how to observe them. In 2012 he gave the British Astronomical Association's Christmas lecture on the subject of Black Holes, and also in 2012 he was awarded a teaching scholarship award for his services to teaching and course development at the University of Leicester. In May 2013, Pete Lawrence and Paul officially opened the first International Astronomy Show in Warwick. Paul will join the tour at Salt Lake City.


Dr Lee Sproats began his lifelong astronomy adventure in 1977 when at the age of 7 he was taken to see Star Wars by his father. Lee's interest in all things astronomical continued and at the age of 14 he obtained an O level in astronomy, later followed by an Honours degree in astronomy at University College London, and then a PhD in astrophysics from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory during which time he used telescopes in Hawaii, Arizona and La Palma. Lee appeared on the BBC 'Sky at Night' programme about Halley's Comet's return from (his then) backyard observatory, and was involved in the live coverage of the Giotto spacecraft's encounter with Halley's Comet in 1986 which was broadcast from the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Having spent time working in the physics department at the University of Surrey, and for a stock market software company, Lee now works for Green Witch Telescopes & Binoculars – one of the UK's leading astronomy retailers. He will accompany the short tour to Nashville and Clarksville.

Please note: Our guest astronomers, Pete Lawrence, Dr Paul Abel and Dr Lee Sproats, have confirmed that they will be available for these holidays, but in the extremely unlikely event that they are not able to travel with us, Omega reserves the right to substitute them.


This tour is organised and operated by Omega Holidays plc ABTA V4782 ATOL 6081

  • Six nights' hotel accommodation with breakfast:
  • 1 night at the Hampton Inn Salt Lake City, Sandy or the Courtyard Salt Lake City, Sandy
  • 3 nights at the Hotel on the Falls or the Best Western Plus Cotton Tree Inn, Idaho Falls
  • 1 night at the Quality Inn & Suites 49'er, Jackson
  • 1 night at the Hampton Inn Salt Lake City, Sandy or the Courtyard Salt Lake City, Sandy
  • Expertise of our guest professional astronomers: Dr Paul Abel and Pete Lawrence
  • Half–day tour of Salt Lake City
  • Admission to Yellowstone National Park
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument admission
  • Touring coach throughout
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • One piece of hold luggage (20 kg minimum weight allowance)
  • All airport taxes, security charges and the government tax on air travel (APD)
  • VAT at 20%

* Please note that flights will be available from Heathrow Airport from £900 approx.


*Based on two people sharing a room. Rooms for single person occupancy are offered, subject to availability, at a supplement of £400 for the holiday.

†The choice of foods offered at breakfast varies greatly from hotel to hotel. Breakfast usually consists of a limited selection of cold continental–style choices, though occasionally there may be one or more hot dishes also available.


Flight Details and Departure Information

We are not able to give precise flight information at the present time as airline timetables are not yet available for August 2017; this information will be published in September 2016.

Regional connecting flights should be available from Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds Bradford. In the event of an early departure time from Heathrow, these will involve travel the day before departure and an overnight stay at a hotel close to the airport. Full details will be available when timetables are published in September 2016.

Meals and drinks on intercontinental flights are included.


VISA INFORMATION

Visas are no longer mandatory in all cases for British Citizens when visiting the USA. The USA operates a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the basic information is below, but you must verify this information for yourself on the USA visa waiver website: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international–visitors/visa–waiver–program

Visitors can travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if they are citizens of the United Kingdom, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, Chile, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland, and travelling on a valid, full–validity, machine–readable or e–passport with an electronic chip. The date on which your passport was issued is an important factor in determining whether your passport will be acceptable for visa–free travel.

You do not qualify for visa–free travel if:

  • your United Kingdom Passport says that you are anything other than a British Citizen
  • (e.g. British Subject, British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Overseas Citizen, British National (Overseas) Citizen, or British Protected Person)
  • your passport states that the holder has Right of Abode or indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom
  • you plan to study, work or remain in the United States for more than 90 days
  • you have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction
  • you have a criminal record (the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to U.S. visa law)
  • you have a serious communicable physical illness, or a mental illness which puts others at risk
  • you have been refused admission to or been deported from the United States, or have previously overstayed on the VWP

Once you have confirmed your eligibility to travel under the Visa Waiver Program, you must apply for authorization to travel to the United States on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), the electronic version of a visa. This must be done at least 72 hours before travel, but preferably as soon as you have confirmation of your travel plans. There is a $14 fee per person for this service. Once an ESTA is issued it is valid for two years, or until your passport expires if sooner, and allows multiple entries into the USA during this time. Please visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov to apply.

If your passport is not suitable or if any of the above exclusions apply, you must apply for a visa in the traditional way from the U.S. Embassy in London. This can be done online at http://london.usembassy.gov/visas.html. A successful visa application is not guaranteed, and there may be no reason given for a refusal.

Friday 18 August: Fly Heathrow → Salt Lake City

You can make your own arrangements to fly or else join our scheduled flight from Heathrow (supplement applies) to Salt Lake City. On arrival, you will be met by your tour manager and transferred to your hotel in Sandy for your overnight stay. Here you will meet up with passengers on the longer tour and Pete Lawrence.

Saturday 19 August: Salt Lake City → Idaho Falls (214 miles)

We travel to Idaho Falls today for the first of three nights stay, and in the evening there will be a presentation by Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel on 'Photographing an Eclipse'.

Sunday 20 August: Craters of the Moon National Monument

Today we take a morning excursion to the volcanic wonderland of the Craters of the Moon National Monument, where you will see a vast ocean of lava flows and the imprint of lava–charred trees along the Tree Molds Trail. Return to the hotel for a pre–eclipse presentation with Pete and Paul in the evening.

Monday 21 August: Idaho Falls - The Eclipse

Eclipse–watching today. We will endeavour to take you as close as possible to the centre–line of the eclipse's path in order to get the most dramatic experience of totality. There will be an eclipse review presentation in the evening.

Tuesday 22 August: Idaho Falls → Yellowstone National Park (Old Faithful) → Jackson (240 miles)

After breakfast today we leave Idaho Falls en route for Jackson and on the way we detour to visit Yellowstone National Park, the oldest and largest National Park in the USA. It has served for generations as a sort of natural, living museum, showing visitors what the continent was like in the days before recorded history. It is, without doubt, one of North America's greatest assets. We do of course hope that 'Old Faithful', the first geyser in the park to be named, erupts for us.

Wednesday 23 August: Jackson → Salt Lake City (280 miles)

Travel from Jackson back to Salt Lake City today. On the way to your overnight hotel, we will enjoy a tour of the historic downtown area, including the world–famous Mormon Temple and Tabernacle, historic Main Street and the new City Creek Center.

In the evening we have a farewell presentation after an unforgettable holiday eclipse and sky–watching.

Thursday 24 August: Salt Lake City → Flight home

Today you will be transferred to the airport in good time for your flight back to the UK.

Friday 25 August: Arrive UK

Passengers with connecting flights to other regional airports can transfer to the appropriate terminal for the final leg of the journey.


Please note that this is a provisional itinerary and is subject to change.


Here are some example hotels or similar ones that we use for this break, actual availability may change with the travel date you choose.

Some hotels have an additional supplement per person, as shown below. Supplements are stated for the break (not per night)

Solar Eclipse Hotels (1),
Staying at Hampton Inn Salt Lake City, Sandy or Courtyard Salt Lake City, Sandy, Best Western Plus Cotton Tree Inn or Hotel On The Falls, Idaho Falls, and Quality Inn & Suites 49'er, Jackson
 

Quote: NWN10

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