August 2026

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Grumble
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August 2026

Post by Grumble » Tue Aug 15, 2023 10:16 pm

In August 2026 there will be a total eclipse of the sun sweeping across northern Spain, not long before sunset. I’m considering organising a family holiday around this event. Has anyone done something similar and if so do you have any advice.
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Re: August 2026

Post by Gfamily » Tue Aug 15, 2023 11:19 pm

Grumble wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2023 10:16 pm
In August 2026 there will be a total eclipse of the sun sweeping across northern Spain, not long before sunset. I’m considering organising a family holiday around this event. Has anyone done something similar and if so do you have any advice.
We booked a campsite above Sennen Cove for the August '99 Eclipse (they were a bit surprised to get a booking from us while still in 1996, but we wanted to be sure).

Spoiler:


I'd prepped by making sure I had a remote control for the camera on its tripod, and a second mount for holding a pair of binoculars so that we could project the early stages of the eclipse onto white card.

Sadly, the day itself was almost completely overcast (we saw a glimpse of the 80% eclipsed Sun for about 30 seconds), but we did experience the sky going dark, the particularly uncanny experience of it being 'twilight' for a full 360° around the horizon, and the way that birds went quiet.
One of the young people managed to step on the tripod and make it a bit unusable, but it wasn't an issue in the end.

I've read that the best advice for the 1st time eclipse observer is to not to try too hard to 'capture' it; 'experiencing' it is far more satisfying.

So, get the eclipse glasses so you can see it, and if you want to take a photo - a telephoto lens for your tripod mounted camera will help you can get something to show at home, but other people will get far better images, so don't let busyness distract you from appreciating the experience.

The Sun is about the same diameter in the sky as the full Moon - so if your camera only gives you a tiny Moon image, that's the same size as you'll get with the eclipsed Sun. The coronal streamers will be bigger, but are (I gather) hard to capture in detail.
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Re: August 2026

Post by nekomatic » Tue Aug 15, 2023 11:21 pm

In 1999, when there was going to be a total eclipse visible from Cornwall, I managed to book an advance train ticket for the weekend to St Ives where my step-grandmother lived so I could go down and see it. Then my dad had the regrettable lack of judgement to die shortly beforehand so I had to cancel the trip and get a refund, which to the train people’s credit they gave me. His funeral in Southampton ended up being on eclipse day so while we were doing the standing around outside afterwards bit it got a bit darker then got light again.

That’s no help to you whatever, but I fully approve of your plan and hope none of your relatives terminally interfere with it
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Re: August 2026

Post by Martin_B » Tue Aug 15, 2023 11:22 pm

Grumble wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2023 10:16 pm
In August 2026 there will be a total eclipse of the sun sweeping across northern Spain, not long before sunset. I’m considering organising a family holiday around this event. Has anyone done something similar and if so do you have any advice.
Like Gfamily, I had a family holiday in Cornwall for the eclipse of 1999. My only advice from that is to have it somewhere where it isn't raining during the eclipse!
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Re: August 2026

Post by bolo » Wed Aug 16, 2023 2:09 am

In 2017, we went down to South Carolina for the eclipse. Hotels right in the path of totality were booked up long in advance, but an hour away they seemed normal. Driving down was pretty normal. Driving back, with everyone to leaving for home at the same time, was a complete clusterf.ck.

The eclipse itself was fantastic and well worth every expense and inconvenience.

Totality itself, of course, was amazing, but beforehand I was particularly struck by the thousands of little pinhole camera images produced under trees by the gaps between leaves. I'd seen little dots of light under a tree before, of course, but it had never occurred to me that each dot is an image of the sun, so it was stunning to see that all those dots had a bite out of the side.

We plan to travel for the April 2024 eclipse as well, but we haven't yet decided on the details.

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Re: August 2026

Post by discovolante » Wed Aug 16, 2023 5:58 am

We may be doing this in Mexico next year. I'm wincing at the cost but it's on account of also potentially being able to take advantage of the hospitality of some Mexican friends (which offers some reassurance), and it being a bit of a group trip. I'll keep an eye on the tips here and maybe report back if it actually happens and I remember.
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Re: August 2026

Post by tenchboy » Wed Aug 16, 2023 9:22 am

No advice other than to second what gf said, leave the cameras in the car, or just take some pics of friends and family on a day out: just enjoy the moment.
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Re: August 2026

Post by Formerly AvP » Wed Aug 16, 2023 9:27 am

I made a long cardboard tube, with one end covered by cardboard with a pin hole in it, and the other end covered with grease proof paper. The image of the sun is of course still tiny (and upside down) but the merit of it was (a) it introduced the kids to the concept of the pin hole camera and (b) they both could see the same image at the same time for discussion. The longer the cardboard tube, the better, of course.
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Re: August 2026

Post by jaap » Wed Aug 16, 2023 11:45 am

Formerly AvP wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2023 9:27 am
I made a long cardboard tube, with one end covered by cardboard with a pin hole in it, and the other end covered with grease proof paper. The image of the sun is of course still tiny (and upside down) but the merit of it was (a) it introduced the kids to the concept of the pin hole camera and (b) they both could see the same image at the same time for discussion. The longer the cardboard tube, the better, of course.
I was in Mongolia in 2008, but not where the total eclipse was. I showed the other tourists that if you do a kind of shadow puppet on the wall, and slowly close an aperture between your thumb and forefinger, the eye inside the shadow puppet focuses to show the crescent sun. This works regardless of the shape of the aperture your hands make, and is great for kids to try out too.

The 1999 eclipse I saw in the South of Belgium. It was slightly cloudy, but somehow the approaching shadow seemed to clear away the clouds to give us a good view. I made a photo with my analog pocket camera, but it came out pretty small and not particularly successful. I agree that you should not spend so much attention on recording the moment that you don't fully experience it yourself. I found it interesting to see the shadow line rush across the fields towards me in the seconds before totality.

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Re: August 2026

Post by IvanV » Thu Sep 07, 2023 1:30 pm

Grumble wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2023 10:16 pm
In August 2026 there will be a total eclipse of the sun sweeping across northern Spain, not long before sunset. I’m considering organising a family holiday around this event. Has anyone done something similar and if so do you have any advice.
I was deliberately holidaying in Switzerland at the time of the 1999 eclipse, intending to travel a modest distance into Germany to get into the path of totality for the day, on the grounds that I'd have a much better chance of clear skies there than in Cornwall, etc. The forecast was very promising, clear skies in the morning, but not quite ideal, some cloudiness and showers later. We got a train to Ulm, with the benefit of an interesting town to visit - and exceedingly packed the train was. We walked to a hill in a park in good time for the eclipse, all under clear skies the whole way. Unfortunately as we were getting to the hill, some clouds and showers bubbled up, and we had a sharp shower about 20 mins before totality. But it cleared again. And then the sun went some small ragged cloud a few mins before totality, and came out again about 30 seconds after totality ended. Very near miss. And so my only attempt at seeing a total eclipse failed.

So my advice is to try and get somewhere with the best possible chance of clear skies. Northern Spain is definitely the most practicable place to go for this eclipse, given other bits of land under it are W Iceland and NE Greenland. Probably there are some very reliably clear skies over the Greenland icecap, but not a practicable family holiday to try to get there.

Among locations in Spain, I'd stay well away from the western part of N Spain, as the eclipse path is in rather a narrow band near the coast there, and that area is a cloud magnet. Also the western end of the Pyrenees to be avoided. And the Med coast is clouder than some way inland, beyond the coastal ranges. So perhaps, subject to confirmation of the precise path of totality, maybe somewhere around Zaragoza or Lleida looks like being the lowest rain risk area. These have only 2 days rain on average in August, as opposed to 6 at Barcelona and 4 at Pamplona. But, maybe there is something better. I see that Mallorca, which looks also to be in path, is also very dry, with only 2 rain days in August at Palma de M.

Of course, there is no total guarantee. Spain is not the Sahara desert. Clouds happen from time to time even in the those bits of Spain that have very dry summers on average, and even occasional rain. So you might want to locate somewhere with some good useful roads nearby so that you can chase a short term forecast of clearer skies. So that might be an argument against Mallorca, where you would be more restricted in your movements. Though that mountain chain along the W edge of the island might provide some clever trick to find a clear bit of sky if clouds are blowing in from the W. But overall I suppose Mallorca presents a better chance of providing the family with an acceptable holiday, than Zaragoza which will be very hot and rather less like a family holiday.

Eta: Another potential problem of Mallorca is that this is the very latest time for the eclipse, quite close to sunset, so it will be very low in the sky. And when you are looking at a low angle, there is a much greater risk of there being some cloud in the way. I discovered this when trying and failing to see the midnight sun in Norway with 10 nights to try. There was always some cloud at a low angle near the horizon, even when most of the sky overhead was clear. So we failed. And actually those mountains might be a problem, unless you can get up or over them with a view to the W, as the sun sets in the W and the mountains run down the western edge of the island. Need to check precise timings and how high the sun is above the horizon at that moment.

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Grumble
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Re: August 2026

Post by Grumble » Thu Sep 07, 2023 3:08 pm

Sky and Telescope are running a trip to Alcañiz, which doesn’t look like a family holiday particularly but gives a good clue as to where they think the best viewing spot is. Barcelona looks to be just outside the path and Valencia is just about at the southern edge, but both are next to the coast so possibly want to head inland a bit. I was thinking Valladolid might be ok, but not sure how tourist friendly it is.

Alternatively train from Barcelona to Zaragoza is only 1:23, so could holiday in Barcelona and take an evening/overnight trip to Zaragoza.
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Re: August 2026

Post by IvanV » Thu Sep 07, 2023 3:51 pm

Grumble wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2023 3:08 pm
I was thinking Valladolid might be ok, but not sure how tourist friendly it is.
I see that Alcañiz bisects my offering of Zaragoza and Lleida. Though your comment on Barcelona makes me wonder if Lleida is a bit close to the northern edge of the track.

As historic regional cities in Spain go, Valladolid is one of the less interesting, though doubtless a must-see for Cervantes fans. There's a great deal more to see in Zaragoza, with its once considerable importance as capital of the kingdom of Aragón.

But Valladolid would be quick to get to on the train from Madrid, as it is on the high speed line to Santiago. And is deep enough into the meseta to be as dry and hot as Zaragoza at that time of year. I hadn't appreciated the eclipse track was still that far south that far west.

But actually I see that you don't have to get very far south of those northern coastal mountains to be onto the dry meseta, in the right places. I was looking at Burgos, which is notably damper. But I see that León, despite being much further west, has only 3 days rain in August. And it's a lot more interesting than Valladolid, being once the Other City (with Madrid) in Castile-and-Leon. And being rather high, it's a few degrees cooler. And it might be reasonably accessible from places worth holidaying in NW Spain, depending upon your family's tastes. It also has high speed rail services, being about 2 hours from Madrid.

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Re: August 2026

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Fri Sep 08, 2023 1:15 pm

I would say avoid Bilbao and San Sebastian - it rains like buggery over there. San Seb gets nearly twice as much rain as Manchester, so go west*, I guess.





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Re: August 2026

Post by IvanV » Fri Sep 08, 2023 5:02 pm

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2023 1:15 pm
I would say avoid Bilbao and San Sebastian - it rains like buggery over there. San Seb gets nearly twice as much rain as Manchester, so go west*, I guess.
Donostia alias San Seb is the wettest city in Spain, by a long chalk. The Bay of Biscay funnels rain clouds towards it, which hit the western end of the Pyrenees, and makes the rain fall on Donostia, and probably even more on the mountain slopes above it. It's rather like why the south side of the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya state in NE India, which is the first high ground hit by the rain clouds funnelled up by the Bay of Bengal in the monsoon season, is the wettest place in south Asia. It's where you'll find the notorious Cherrapunji, though there are even wetter places.

So going in any direction away from Donostia, ignoring climbing high into the Pyrenees, will reduce rainfall quite markedly. But staying on the north side of the mountains, whether west along the coast, or east along the northern side of the Pyrenees, keeps you within the damp zone. South gets you driest fastest.

But I've only been looking at rainfall stats, it's not as easy to find cloudiness and sky clarity stats. Maybe the astronomers know where to go for the best chance of nicely clear skies. Maybe that's why they've chosen a pretty little town about 80km from Zaragoza, well to the SE of Donostia.

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Re: August 2026

Post by Beaker » Sat Sep 16, 2023 6:20 pm

Zaragoza? Now there’s an idea. I’ve been a couple of times for work, and really liked the atmosphere. Easy to get to with flight and the high speed train from Barcelona or Madrid.

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