Unless you’ve been out of the country or traveling to another galaxy, you are well aware Columbia is positioned in the best location on the East Coast to witness a total solar eclipse. The eclipse, which will reach its apex at about 2:41 p.m. in this area, will be visible along a thin, roughly 100 mile-wide path that runs diagonally across America from Oregon to South Carolina.
The planning part starts now. During the week of April 17- 23, the sun is following the same path that it will on August 21, therefore allowing people to find a good venue so they can view this once-in-lifetime spectacle.
“If you want to be prepared for the eclipse, you will want to know where you can view it,” said University of South Carolina Astronomy Professor Steve Rodney. “ Think of this week as an eclipse dress rehearsal.”
Rodney explained that since the earth is tilted at 23 degrees and it revolves, the placement of the sun will vary as to the season. Just because the sun is visible in January from a fixed location and time, it might not be visible there at the same time in August. Confusing to mere mortals? Yes. For those who want a real “science-y” explanation, Google this: Analemma figure diagram.
Rodney said it’s very important for those who want to view the event safely to wear eclipse glasses during the event, except for the two or so minutes of totality.
Columbia has been gearing up for the eclipse, which could bring an estimated one million people to the area for the August 21 weekend.
Here are some of the highlights, provided by Tracie Broom of Flock and Rally:
• “Sunblock” Total Eclipse Viewing Party and Eclipse Eve Drive-In Movie Night at Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce.
• Solar 17 at Lake Murray viewing festival with tents, free water, and free eclipse glasses at Lake Murray dam and lakefront park sites, 25 minutes from downtown Columbia, S.C.
• The Lexington County Blowfish baseball team is dedicating its entire 2017 season to the eclipse and will open the Lexington County Baseball Stadium for a free viewing event.
• The S.C. State Museum ( home of the Boeing Observatory) will host ticketed events and educational programming all weekend, with a NASA exhibition and eclipse day viewing event with a personal appearance by S.C. NASA astronaut Charles Duke (one of 12 men to walk on the moon).
• Astronomy workshops, exhibitions, and lectures at University of South Carolina department of Physics and Astronomy and at USC’s Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections’ Robert B. Ariail collection of historical astronomy.
• “Shadows and Science in the Wilderness” programs and ranger-led hikes to prime viewing locations at Congaree National Park.
• Total eclipse viewing event at Sesquicentennial State Park Tent camping and eclipse viewing at Siesta Cove Marina & RV Park on Lake Murray.
• Weekend and single day eclipse parking and RV parking at the S.C. State Fairgrounds.
For more information about Columbia events, visit www.eclipse2017.org/2017/communities/states/SC/Columbia_1441.htm or just Google “Columbia Solar Eclipse.”