Rare coast-to-coast total solar eclipse is less than a month away

GREENSBORO, NC -- It will be a sight to behold from coast to coast. The first total solar eclipse to stretch from the Pacific to the Atlantic since 1918 is only about one month away.

When? The solar eclipse will cross the country on Monday, August 21st. On the east coast, the partial eclipse will start after 1 p.m., with the sun becoming more than 90% covered by the moon at 2:42 p.m.. The eclipse will subside over the following hour.

MORE | Read ALL our Eclipse of 2017 articles

Where? To see the total solar eclipse, you'll need to travel into the path of totality. This stretches diagonally across South Carolina along a 70 mile wide path including Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina is clipped as well.

What? The moon will block the sun, leading to a complete darkness along the path of totality in SC. The temperature will even drop in these areas. In the Piedmont, most of the sun's light will be blocked, but not all, leading to a dimmer sky.

10 best places to watch:

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Ore.

The National Park Service is already planning for crowds in what’s usually a quiet corner of Oregon. The monument’s three units, known for an abundance of plant and animal fossils, will all plunge into darkness for up to two minutes. “It’s a wonderful setting with a great chance of clear skies,” Moromisato says. The monument bookstore will carry eclipse-viewing glasses and filters, but suggests visitors bring their own in case they sell out. nps.gov/joda

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho

Moromisato says there’s a certain symmetry to watching an eclipse involving the moon on a landscape named after the moon. “It’s an otherworldly place right at the edge of the path.” Total darkness will last about a minute. nps.gov/crmo

Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.

The famed Rockies park sits in the middle of the eclipse path and will experience up to two minutes and 20 seconds of darkness. Moromisato says rangers will likely provide programming for the event. “It’s another great reason to see it in a national park as opposed to the middle of a highway somewhere.” nps.gov/grte

Homestead National Monument of America, Neb.

This park plans a full weekend celebration leading up to the Monday eclipse, promising “Darkness over the Prairie.” Events including a photography workshop, music and stargazing. The park gift shop’s already selling a range of souvenir merchandise. nps.gov/home

St. Joseph, Mo.

The town north of Kansas City sits near the center of the path and has five planned viewing areas, including an historic mansion overlooking the Missouri River bluffs. The chamber of commerce says some national hotel reservations websites and reservations centers are incorrectly indicating the city’s hotels are sold out, and urges visitors to call local hotels directly to book rooms. StJoMoEclipse.com

Carbondale, Ill.

The home of Southern Illinois University is promoting itself as the “Eclipse Crossroads of America.” Not only is it at the center of the excitement this year, but seven years later, on April 8, 2024, it will experience a similar event again when another North American eclipse crosses the country from Texas to Maine. carbondaleeclipse.com

Hopkinsville, Ky.

If you want to eke every second out of the eclipse, this western Kentucky town is one of your best bets. It will experience a full two minutes and 41 seconds of darkness, plus the event coincides with the town’s fifth annual Little Green Men Festival, inspired by a UFO incident from the 1950s. “It’s a small little local town celebrating. They will have a lot of little cool activities,” Moromisato says. visithopkinsville.com

Nashville

Tennessee’s capital will be the biggest city to completely go dark. “Anyone can just walk out the door and see a total eclipse. It’s going to be a shared experience. Everyone will be talking about this for the next 10 years,” Moromisato says. And it just might inspire a new country music classic. visitmusiccity.com

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn. and N.C.

The western section of the nation’s most visited national park will experience up to two minutes and 20 seconds of totality. The park has organized three viewing areas, including Cades Cove, Oconaluftee and Clingmans Dome. Viewing from the latter, the highest peak in the park, will be by ticket only. “You’ll have the full view around you and will be able to see the shadow of the moon below,” Moromisato says. nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/2017-solar-eclipse.htm

Charleston, S.C.

The historic coastal city has rolled out an array of packages for the event, from hotel rooftop viewing with a College of Charleston astronomy instructor, to a blues-and-barbecue harbor cruise on a paddlewheeler. “This is essentially the last place in the United States that will see the eclipse,” Moromisato says. charlestoncvb.com/special-offers/packages/eclipse

Read: Now is the Time to Prepare for August 21 Eclipse

This is a rare sight. A total eclipse only covers a narrow path across the Earth because of the moon's relative small size to the sun. That means only a small fraction of the globe gets to see each total eclipse.
 

© 2017 TEGNA MEDIA


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