It's coming! The total solar eclipse that has spawned nationwide fervor and should be visible from coast to coast will take place Monday, August 21.
It's the first solar eclipse to be visible in the United States since 1979 and the first solar eclipse to cover the entire country since 1918. The next total solar eclipse over North America won’t take place until 2024, so it is understandable why so many eclipse chasers (known as umbraphiles), amateur and professional astronomers, and curious citizens are scrambling to find a viewing spot in the “path of totality” — along the swath of the country from Oregon to South Carolina where the eclipse will be the most complete and last the longest.
Most ticketed programs, events, hotels, motels, campgrounds, Airbnb-style lodgings, and back yards along the path of totality are already sold out, but many smaller communities still have room for you at their viewing parties and events.
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Here are some eclipse events to consider:
The solar eclipse will reach land first in Oregon, just north of the coastal town of Depoe Bay, but nearby beach towns, including Lincoln City, will be celebrating their ‘First Landfall” status. In Salem, there will be viewing parties at the state capitol building, area vineyards, and at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, while in the central Oregon town of Madras, NASA is helping host the Oregon Solarfest (August 17-21), complete with glamping and live music. See more Oregon eclipse events here.
In Idaho, there will be an Eclipse Fest in Weiser (August 18-21) and special viewing events at the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls and on Festival Meadows in Sun Valley. More Idaho eclipse details here.
The eclipse will pass over the central region of Wyoming, including Grand Teton National Park and six state parks and historic sites where special programs with astronomers are planned. Celebratory festivals and events are planned in a variety of Wyoming towns, including Casper, which will be hosting the Astrocon Astronomy Conference, and Jackson Hole, where lucky ticket holders will get to view the eclipse from the tram or the Sweetwater Gondola. In town, the new Springhill Suites will be hosting a “celestial” inspired concert set tribute band, Pinky and the Floyd. More Wyoming eclipse details here .
The path of totality runs diagonally across the Cornhusker State of Nebraska, with key viewing events in the Sandhills, Beatrice (at the Homestead National Monument of America), in Hastings, during Solfest and Lincoln, where the Saltdogs Baseball Team will take an “Eclipse Delay” during its scheduled game at Haymarket Park. More Nebraska eclipse events here.
The path of totality will cut across Missouri and many Show-Me State parks, and historic sites and communities from St.Joseph to Cape Girardeau have a wide variety of watching parties and events planned. In St. Joseph, one of the primary watch locations will be on the grounds of the Rosecrans Memorial Airport. In Perryville, 80 miles southeast of St. Louis, there will be a Solarfest August 18 and 19 in advance of the big event. (More Missouri eclipse events here.)
In Illinois, the path of totality will be in the southern part of the state. There will be a (ticketed) eclipse viewing event for 10,000 people at Saluki Stadium at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale with speakers from NASA and the Chicago’s Alder Planetarium. And, as the eclipse begins, Ozzy Osbourne plans to kick off his set at the Moonstock Music Festival in Cartersville by singing “Bark at the Moon.” More Southern Illinois eclipse events here.
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Much of western Kentucky falls in the path of totality with Hopkinsville holding an Eclipse Festival (August 18-21) and welcoming visitors to a variety of public viewing areas. By coincidence (perhaps?), this year’s solar eclipse crosses paths with the dates for the annual Kelly “Little Green Men” Days Festival (August 18-21), a free event commemorating the alleged attack on a Kelly farmhouse by “little green men” from a spaceship on August 21, 1955.
Paducah, KY will also be marking the solar eclipse with public viewing gatherings on the Paducah Riverfront and other locations, including the McCracken County Public Library garden, where they will be handing out free solar viewing glasses, moon pies, and sun tea.
During the eclipse, the city will also be unveiling a special mural based on an eclipse-themed quilt (‘Corona II: Solar Eclipse,’ by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry) in the collection of Paducah’s National Quilt Museum. More Kentucky eclipse events here.
Viewing parties and events such as ice cream social and an Edge of Darkness BBQ Bologna Bash are planned in some of the 18 Tennessee state parks that fall in the path of totality. A long list of eclipse events in Nashville will include a viewing party at First Tennessee Park that includes music by the Nashville Symphony (and a Sounds baseball game after the viewing), a Total Eclipse Plaza Party with live music at the Grand Ole Opry and an “animal observation” event at the Nashville. More Tennessee eclipse events in communities stretching from Clarksville to Cleveland are here.
Columbia is hosting a long weekend of more than 50 eclipse-related festivals and events, from August 18 to 21 including everything from lectures and exhibits exploring the history of eclipses to concerts, readings, eclipse art shows, viewing parties (including a dress rehearsal) and the release of a locally brewed very dark beer. More South Carolina eclipse events here.
In addition to the city and state parks that will be hosting eclipse viewing events, the National Park Service has identified 21 national park units (including historic sites) and 7 trails in the path of totality, ranging from the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon to the Ninety Six National Historic Site in South Carolina.
Many commercial flights will be in the air over the United States during the solar eclipse and some lucky passengers will get an unusual birds’ eye views of the event.
Southwest Airlines has identified five morning flights likely to offer the best views, including flights heading to St. Louis from Portland (Flight #1368), Seattle (Flight #1375) and Denver (Flight #1577) and flights leaving Denver for Nashville (Flight #301) and Atlanta (Flight #1869) On those flights, the carrier plans to hand out special viewing glasses and offer ‘cosmic’ cocktails.
United Airlines is working with NASA to identify flights that will be flying within the path of totality and is planning to offer viewing glasses passengers on those flights, but so far has tagged two flights to Chicago O’Hare — Flight #1160 from Houston and Flight #330 from Miami — and Flight #5934 from Cleveland to Denver.
And Alaska Airlines will be sending a special charter flight out to over the ocean from Portland, Oregon to give passengers a unique view of the eclipse before it makes landfall. Astronomers and special guests quickly claimed all the seats — but two lucky umbraphiles won the airline's social media contest for a free pair of seats.