7 Days and Counting

Last minute information for eclipse-day planning

By Deena C. Bouknight

A full article on the upcoming August 21st total eclipse is featured in the July/August 2017 issue of Columbia Metropolitan Magazine. Visit ColumbiaMetro.com.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of the moon crossing in front of its view of the sun on Jan. 30, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. EST in 171 and 304 angstrom light. The two wavelengths are blended together.

The eclipse is the talk of the town. Hotel occupancy has been reserved for months at 100 percent for the evening of August 20th, and 91 percent the evening following the eclipse. Hundreds of thousands of are expected from all over the world due to Columbia’s unique position in the path of this rare astronomical phenomenon. Some in Columbia are even offering up rooms through AirBNB and VRBO sites. The eclipse will last nearly 3 hours in all — starting a little after 1 p.m. and ending shortly after 4 p.m. The period of totality will last about two and a half minutes just after 2:40 p.m.

The website set up to handle questions and provide information – managed by city leaders – is totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com, and it started receiving at least 2,500 hits daily nearly a month ago. “At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers who have gathered in the Greater Columbia, S.C., area will experience the longest period of 100% total eclipse for a metro area on the entire East Coast of the United States — ranging from 2 minutes and 30 seconds to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of total darkness,” it shares. On the site, visitors can view a map of the eclipse route, learn history and details of eclipses, know events, sales, and activities planned for Eclipse Weekend, and find special eclipse glasses, which must be worn to protect eyes.

One location to purchase glasses is the State Museum at only a few dollars a pair. Glasses will also be given out at various events during the eclipse. The City of Columbia expects to distribute at least 100,000 pairs.

One common question is: Where should I be during the eclipse? It is important to decide prior to August 21 where to view the eclipse. Either stay home and plan to watch from the yard, or get to another site early to avoid crowds and secure a viewing spot. Officials are forecasting severe interstate congestion and cautioning travelers to plan for patience.

Here are just some eclipse-planning considerations, provided by Total Eclipse Columbia SC:

Festivals & Entertainment

  • “Soda City Eclipse Viewing Party” and Eclipse Eve Drive-In Movie Night at Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce, S.C., just across the Congaree River from Columbia, S.C.
  • Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball games all weekend and “Total Eclipse of the Park” game and viewing event during eclipse with iMAGINE STEM Festival
  • Solar 17 at Lake Murray viewing festival with tents, free water and free eclipse glasses at Lake Murray dam & lakefront park sites, 25 minutes from downtown Columbia, S.C.
  • The Lexington County Blowfish baseball team is dedicating their entire 2017 season to the eclipse and will open the Lexington County Baseball Stadium for a free viewing event
  • ECLIPSEFEST 2017 at Music Farm Columbia w/rock ‘n roll tribute bands
  • Viewing event with family-friendly band in the spacious gardens of the Robert Mills House
  • Solar Fest West at the West Columbia riverfront amphitheater with live entertainment

Science & Education

  • 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 & 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
  • Eclipse Geocaching Cointrail event at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
  • Solar Learning Challenge party for families on Aug. 19 at Richland Library
  • Riverbanks Zoo will be open for regular ticketed admission all weekend and on eclipse day
  • Saluda Shoals Park’s family-friendly Eclipse Extravaganza with games & hands-on activities
  • Historic Columbia walking tours of Main St. & the Vista, happy hour water balloon fight
  • Summer Learning Challenge hosted by Richland Library
  • Eddie’s Eyes on the Sky Sleepover with EdVenture, educational indoor camping

Outdoors

  • Paddling on the lower Saluda River at Saluda Shoals Park’s Total Eclipse on the River event
  • “Shadows and Science in the Wilderness” programs & ranger-led hikes to prime viewing locations at Congaree National Park, 20 minutes from downtown Columbia, S.C.
  • Guided outdoor historical walking tours along the paved, riverside forest trails at the 12,000 Year History Park in Cayce, S.C., 10 minutes from downtown Columbia, S.C.
  • Total eclipse viewing event at Sesquicentennial State Park in Northeast Columbia, S.C.
  • Tent camping and eclipse viewing at Siesta Cove Marina & RV Park on Lake Murray
  • Eclipse tailgate party, plus parking and RV parking, at the S.C. State Fairgrounds
  • Picnic and eclipse viewing in the wide-open fields of Camp Discovery

Food & Drink

  • Lowcountry Boil & Paella Party with live music at City Roots urban sustainable farm
  • VIP Eclipse Viewing Party with open bar & luxe buffet at Motor Supply Co. Bistro in the Vista
  • “The Grape Eclipse” 4-day wine, food and jazz party at Mercer Winery in Lexington, S.C.
  • Two Gals and a Fork Food Tours
  • Taco Monday eclipse viewing specials at Publico Kitchen & Tap in Five Points
  • Cooking class and rooftop eclipse viewing with Let’s Cook Studio
  • Barrel-aged beer release at Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington
  • Enoree River Winery’s crowd and RV friendly viewing event with live music

Arts

  • A large-scale public art/laser light installation at the Congaree River, “Southern Lights”
  • “Star Wars Musiclipse” space-themed concert by S.C. Philharmonic
  • The Jasper Project’s “Syzygy” eclipse-themed plays and poetry events w/two Poet Laureates
  • Nickelodeon Theatre screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • The popular Arts & Draughts party at the Columbia Museum of Art
  • Palmetto Y Luna arts event at Tapp’s Arts Center
  • Film, music, art & dance events across the region
  • “Art in the Dark” family-friendly celebration from Bravo Blythewood
  • Learn how to photograph the eclipse with the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce

The solar eclipse will be here before we know it! To countdown, visit this handy site:
eclipsecountdown.com.

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