It’s coming….the day will go dark during the Total Solar Eclipse of August 2017 across North America. On the afternoon of Monday, August 21, 2017, the moon will cover the sun, and depending on where you’re located, you’ll experience a total or partial solar eclipse. While Ohio isn’t in the path of totality – meaning we won’t see a total solar eclipse – there are several places where you could take day trip from Ohio in order to experience the rare total solar eclipse. It’s been 26 years since the last, and will be 7 years before the next, so this is the chance to cross this off your bucket list!
All of North America will experience a partial eclipse where the moon blocks part of the sun for approximately 2-3 hours beginning around 1:15 EST. As the moon crosses in front of the sun halfway through the event, those located within a 70-mile path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse of up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Day will look like night, and the sun’s outer atmosphere – the corona – will be visible along with bright stars and planets. The corona (a ring of hot gas around the sun’s perimeter) is not visible to the naked eye due to the brightness of the sun. The partial eclipse will end at approximately 4:15 pm EST.
The total solar eclipse will travel a 70 mile path across 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina. If you want to see the total eclipse, you’ll have to travel within that path. Columbus can expect to get between 85-90% coverage, so at 2:30 in the afternoon the sun will just be a thin sliver in the sky.
This is the first time a total solar eclipse has gone from one American coast to the other since 1918. It will also be the first time in U.S. history that a total solar eclipse will make landfall exclusively on U.S. soil, meaning it will not be visible from any other country. For that reason, some are calling this upcoming celestial event the “Great American Eclipse.”
Due to the rarity and excitement surrounding this natural phenomenon, there are eclipse tours, community festivals, and other travel opportunities for the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse across America. Locally, you can join COSI on the Nashville Eclipse Viewing Trip from August 20-24, 2017. Price is $670 for members, $695 for nonmembers* including accommodations, transportation, and more. The group tour will be lead by COSI Chief Scientist Dr. Paul Sutter, will head to Nashville Tennessee to see the 2017 Great American Eclipse. The 5 day/4 night trip will include one of the best views of the eclipse, plus other cool science activities and all the best Nashville has to offer.
COSI will also be holding a Solar Eclipse Celebration on August 21 from noon – 4 pm. Enjoy a themed, fun-filled day and safely view the eclipse at COSI. COSI Educators will be on-hand to explain the science behind the eclipse. COSI will also be out in the community at eclipse watch parties held at branches of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Metro Parks. Check out this list of Eclipse watch parties around Columbus.
Whether you are travelling to see the total eclipse, or plan to step outside to see the partial, it’s never safe to look at the sun except during the full total eclipse stage, so you’ll need a solar filter to view the partial eclipse stage. Check out the NASA page for eclipse viewing techniques and safety so you can be prepared. Many places have sold out of the glasses, but most watch parties will have some available, or you can make a pinhole viewer to safely see the eclipse. Regular sunglasses WILL NOT provide sufficient protection!
Day trips from Ohio to experience the total solar eclipses on August 21
Kentucky and Tennessee are the closest states from Columbus to view the total eclipse, with drive time of approximately 5-6 hours, while the small portion of North Carolina covered will take just under 6 hours. While it’s a much further drive, it would be amazing to see the eclipse as it leaves land and is swept across the ocean from South Carolina. Any location along the path of totality is likely to experience high traffic volume, so if you intend to stay overnight along the path, book your accommodations ASAP. Remember that clouds may interfere with viewing, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll see things as clearly as you are hoping.
Head to the southwest part of Kentucky for the total solar eclipse. Not only is it one of the closest spots on the path of totality to Ohio, the point of “greatest eclipse” will occur in Kentucky, where the moon’s shadow cone passes closest to the Earth’s center. Totality is expected to last 2 minutes and 40.1 seconds, beginning at 1:24 p.m. CDT at this “greatest eclipse” spot between the towns of Princeton and Hopkinsville — along Cerulean Hopkinsville Road (Route 624) and just to the east of the intersection with J Stewart Cemetery Road. Louisville lies outside of the path of totality, but will see 95.8 percent of the sun eclipsed at 2:27 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Tennessee crosses 2 time zones, so the total eclipse will enter Tennessee at 1:25 p.m. Central time and leave it at 2:38 p.m. Eastern time, crossing through the central and eastern half of the state. Nashville is along the path at 1:27 CDT with the black out last for 1 minute and 54 seconds. Other major Tennessee cities with a near solar eclipse include Chattanooga with 99.5 percent coverage at 2:32 p.m. EDT; and Knoxville will be practically total with a 99.9 percent eclipse at 2:34 p.m. EDT.
North Carolina Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The total eclipse will spread across just the southwest corner of North Carolina, but it’s expected to be one of the spots most traveled on this side of the United States for eclipse viewing due to proximity to so many Americans. A high spot in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park will provide an expansive view, and Clingman’s Dome is one of the highest spots.
Though a much further drive, make a vacation out of it and head to South Carolina. The path of totality will spread from northwest to southeast between 2:36 and 2:49 p.m. EDT, cutting across major cities of Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston. The eclipse will leave land at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge near McClellanville. But be warned, South Carolina is the closest spot to millions on the East Coast, so it’s expected that the areas of totality will be packed on August 21, and you’ll want to account for traffic and crowds.
Once it leaves land out over the Atlantic Ocean, it won’t touch another body of water before it ends.
Image Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
Figure 2- This map shows the globe view of the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. You can find more information at: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4518 (link is external)
For more information, activities, events, and resources, check out the NASA site for the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017.
Not going to make it to see the 2017? The April 8, 2024 is projected to run from Mexico to Texas, and along a diagonal to Maine to the maritime provinces of Canada – and will run just west of Columbus and through the state of Ohio!
photo credit: GreatAmericanEclipse.com
Looking for more solar eclipse information? Check out Solar Eclipse Viewing Parties around Columbus (most of these will provide free solar eclipse glasses).