By Les Zaitz
A total solar eclipse hits Malheur County about every 375 years, making Monday’s event a once-in-a-lifetime experience to catch.
To milk every second of that rare darkness, head to Eldorado.
According to NASA’s calculations, the former gold town will provide the longest period of darkness in Malheur County – two minutes and nine seconds.
That makes it one of the best places in the county to catch this spectacle.
And federal scientists calculate that Malheur County has the highest odds of any place in Oregon to be cloud free on Monday. There is a 93 percent chance, for instance, that Ontario will be cloudless on Monday. With the latest forecasts suggesting clouds on the west side of the state, the area could see a last-minute surge in spectacle seekers.
And while people are waiting for totality, they can trade eclipse trivia. The eclipse, for instance, hits the U.S. first in Oregon, with totality in Lincoln City at 11:15 MT. The last time the U.S. saw a total eclipse was Feb. 26, 1979, and an eclipse hasn’t crossed the continent since 1918.
The length of totality will vary throughout the county, but every part of the territory will experience at least a partial eclipse. Even tiny McDermitt, far south on the Nevada border, will be treated to an eclipse that obscures 93 percent of the sun.
But for true eclipse fans, Eldorado is the place to be as its nearly at the center of the eclipse path. Now mostly a name on a map and in history books, Eldorado is at the far north end of the county on Mormon Basin Road, accessible via Willow Creek Road off U.S. 26.
As in most of the county, Eldorado’s eclipse experience will last about 2 ½ hours, beginning at 10:09 a.m. and emerging back to full sun at 12:47 p.m.
Malheur Reservoir might be easier to get to and, according to NASA’s calculations, eclipse watchers give up just three seconds of totality by watching here. Peak totality will be at 10:24.16.
Here are locations in Malheur County that will experience totality, including the length of darkness and the precise time of peak eclipse conditions:
Bully Creek Park – 2:03, 11:25.04 a.m.
Ironside – 2:02, 11:23.24 a.m.
Brogan – 1:58, 11:24.33 a.m.
Willowcreek – 1:39, 11:24.53 a.m.
Ontario – 1:20, 11:25.34 a.m.
Vale – 54.4 seconds, 11:25.25 a.m.
Here are locations in Malheur County that won’t quite get to totality, showing the percentage of eclipse, and the time of maximum coverage:
Nyssa – 99.95 percent,11:26.09 a.m.
Harper – 99.79 percent, 11:25:14 a.m.
Adrian – 99.65 percent, 11:25:59 a.m.
Owyhee State Park – 99.21 percent, 11:25.41 a.m.
Jordan Valley – 97.10 percent, 11:25:44 a.m.
Rome – 96.38 percent; 11:24.47 a.m.