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Getting Ready For The Total Solar Eclipse In Nebraska

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Getting Ready For The Total Solar Eclipse In Nebraska

by Ariana Brocious, NET News

NASA Interactive Map of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. (Map image courtesy NASA and Google)

August 17, 2017 - 6:45am

On Monday, much of the continental U.S. will experience the first total solar eclipse in almost 100 years. Nebraska is one of the best places to see it.

Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, casting its shadow across a part of the globe. But the earth is big, and much of it is covered by water:

“So most of the time when once of these eclipses occur they're not at a convenient location to get to,” said Dan Claes, chair of the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While partial solar eclipses happen a few times a year, for the sun and moon to line up exactly is even less common, Claes said. And this year, we’re especially lucky.

“To have it occur, basically in your own backyard, where all you have to do is waltz outside to see it, that's something very special,” Claes said. “And that can be decades and even hundreds of years from the occurrence of one to the next.”

Claes hasn’t seen a total solar eclipse, but said witnessing a partial one was powerful enough. The birds quieted as the sky grew darker.

“And that hush, together with the ever so slight dimming of the skies alone was almost like a religious experience to me. And the prospect of having that moment being utter darkness, I think will be very exciting,” he said.

That’s the magic that awaits those in the so-called path of totality, a 70-mile wide stretch of the moon’s shadow. The total eclipse will last around three hours, but unlike dawn or dusk, Claes said we won’t notice the increasingly darkening sky for most of it.

“But when we get within a few minutes of totality, then we'll realize that something actually is happening and when it suddenly happens we'll have this minute and a half where it's dark. And it'll get dark like night. The stars will come out,” Claes said.

Totality—the time when the sun is completely blocked by the moon—will start in western Nebraska around 11:47 a.m. MT, and end in eastern Nebraska around 1:07 p.m. CT. During the couple minutes of totality, we can observe the sun like few of us have before.

“When the moon comes in and eclipses the orb of the sun itself, we will see the illumination of its surrounding atmosphere. What that will look like is sometimes described as a ring of fire, so we'll see this fiery little ring. If there are any eruptions on the surface of the sun, we will also see those dancing around that ring,” Claes said.

By now, you probably know about the total solar eclipse. Perhaps you’ve already made plans for watching it. But if you haven’t—don’t worry. Nebraskans will have some of the best viewing opportunities right here at home.

From Scottsbluff to Falls City, communities across the state have spent the last year gearing up for eclipse-related events. Carhenge in Alliance will have a pop up planetarium and a pow wow. Scottsbluff and Gering will host a car show, beer and wine festival and laser show. North Platte offers yoga and a tapping of a special beer. Hastings’ Solfest is a multiday festival including local music and art. Lincoln will have a science fair and Salt Dogs baseball game.

Like many other Nebraska eclipse destinations, Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice has a range of events planned the weekend preceding the eclipse itself. 

“We have folks with NASA and Dr. Amy Mainzer with Ready Jet Go. The Many Moccasin Dance Troupe from the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska. So we have a great lineup of programs,” said Mark Engler, park superintendent.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to the path of totality in Nebraska.

“People are realizing that this is way beyond a bucket list kind of thing,” said John Ricks, executive director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission. While he said they don’t have estimates on the number of people expected to visit the state or the potential economic impact, it’s going to be big. At a recent news conference, Governor Pete Ricketts said it could be the biggest single-day tourism event in Nebraska history.

“The buzz has increased significantly in the last 2 to 3 weeks and it continues to grow. And every day we get closer the more excited people get,” Ricks said.

Are you excited yet? If so, here are some tips for safe eclipse viewing:

  • Don’t look directly at the sun without proper eyewear. And sunglasses aren’t enough—you need special eclipse glasses.
  • If you’re traveling to see the eclipse, leave early and give yourself plenty of time. Bring paper maps in case cell phone service is overloaded or spotty.
  • Be a safe driver. Don’t wear eclipse glasses while driving, don’t stop on the side of the road to watch or take photographs, and be prepared for a lot of traffic and eclipse watchers.
  • Dress appropriately for mid-August and bring water, snacks, and chairs with you, as well as a full tank of gas.
  • More tips from NASA, including their interactive map and how to build your own solar eclipse viewer

Listen for an NET News eclipse special from Beatrice Monday morning just after 8 CT on NET Radio. And share photos and videos of your eclipse experience on the Nebraska Stories Facebook page to contribute to a future Nebraska Stories episode.

A slacker's guide to the 2017 solar eclipse
(CNN) — We've all heard about those lovers of astronomy, those fans of nature and science, all of whom have been planning for years to travel to see this year's total solar eclipse.
This is not about those people.
Hello to those non-planners who have been more focused on summer vacation, back to school specials and the latest episodes of "Game of Thrones"!
You may have just realized that the sun will be completely blocked by the moon for a brief period on Monday, August 21, in parts of the United States.
The nation's first total solar eclipse since 1979 and the first to cross from the West Coast to the East Coast since 1918, the 2017 eclipse will cross from Oregon to South Carolina and "the path of totality" along the way will be up to 70 wiles wide.
It's a financial bonanza for hotels, restaurants, bars, campgrounds and festivals along the route, with many selling out their rooms and events months in advance. Those that remain are selling at a premium mark-up.
"A total eclipse is such a rare occurrence, for many in the US this will be the first time in their life they can see one," says CNN Senior Meteorologist Brandon Miller. "The path of this eclipse makes it a once-in-a lifetime event in that it transects the country almost down the middle - meaning it is a one-day drive for a vast majority of the nation."
We have good news! It's not too late for a slacker to see the eclipse, provided you can stand up getting up early to drive to see it. For those of you who have put off planning a weekend dedicated to the moon and the sun, CNN offers a slacker's guide to the total eclipse of 2017.
(Just don't be a slacker with your supplies. NASA and the National Park Service advises travelers to stock up on water, snacks, sunscreen -- and your solar eclipse viewing glasses -- before leaving home.)

Homestead National Monument, Nebraska

Homestead National Monument will offer stunning views of the eclipse.
Homestead National Monument will offer stunning views of the eclipse.
Bill Nye the Science Guy will join NASA scientists Dr. Amy Mainzer, Dr. Kelsey Young, Dr. Edwin Grayzeck and more for a full day of free events at Homestead on August 21. Park rangers will also shine the light on a new Eclipse Explorer Junior Ranger program.
Use Gage County's free shuttle service to get around, since parking will be severely restricted in the area.
Can't get to Homestead? The eclipse will cross over 21 national park sites and 7 trails. See whether one is near you.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon

Eastern Oregon is a prime viewing spot for the eclipse, and John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is preparing for big crowds starting nearly a week before the August 21 show.
The eclipse will be visible at all three park units, which is home to ecosystems dating back 40 million years.

Ketchum and Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley's party with Ketchum will take place on Festival Road.
Sun Valley's party with Ketchum will take place on Festival Road.
Ketchum and Sun Valley are hosting a joint solar eclipse viewing party on Festival Field on Sun Valley Road, in addition to artist studio tours, "lit" walks sponsored by the local library and other events throughout the week.
Just an hour's drive west, Sawtooth National Forest's reserved and unreserved campsites are expected to be filled up by the August 19 weekend. But the national forest will be still be welcoming day trippers -- just arrive early before all the parking spots are filled.

Carbondale, Illinois

Southern Illinois University Carbondale is hosting a massive ticketed event at Saluki Stadium, with NASA Eclipse 2017, the Adler Planetarium of Chicago and the Louisiana Space Consortium all participating in the festivities there. But the eclipse will be viewable outside the stadium and throughout the city of Carbondale, where there will be a marketplace and music festival.
The nearby Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge isn't planning any formal events but the eclipse will be viewable from publicly accessible parts of the refuge.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The sunrise reflects on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park.
Astronomers and park rangers will host events at Grand Teton National Park, which has designated five eclipse viewing areas within the national park.
While a lot of parking is first-come, first-served, some passes will start becoming available on August 19, two days before the eclipse.

The Remington Nature Center, St. Joseph, Missouri

St. Joe has a lot planned for the eclipse. Next to the Missouri River, the Remington Nature Center will have extended hours on August 21, and admission is just $3 for adults, $2 for senior and $1 for children 4-15 and free for those 3 and younger.
The public can also watch the eclipse in the nature center parking lot and on the property of the nearby St Joe Frontier Casino, at Riverfront Park and along the Riverwalk.

Night at Noon, Paducah, Kentucky

This NASA map shows the path of the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire US in 99 years.
This NASA map shows the path of the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire US in 99 years.
Former astronaut and Kentucky native Terry Wilcutt, who serves as NASA's chief of safety and mission assurance, will headline the "Night at Noon" eclipse party hosted by West Kentucky Community and Technical College on the lawn of the Challenger Learning Center.
There will also be a NASA High Altitude Balloon Launch, organizers say, one of dozens across the country.

Clarksville, Tennessee

The city of Clarksville will host several free and low-fee events across town, including Fortera Stadium at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville Regional Airport and Liberty Park.
Austin Peay's Department of Physics and Astronomy has been training students as "Eclipse Educators" to teach people more about the eclipse at viewing spots throughout the city.

Tallulah Gorge State Park, Georgia

For a brief time, the moon will block the sun, throwing parts of the country into darkness.
For a brief time, the moon will block the sun, throwing parts of the country into darkness.
A two-hour drive north of Atlanta, Tallulah Gorge State Park is hosting an afternoon eclipse viewing party from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. -- one of 12 state parks to mark the day. The park opens at 8 a.m., and the parking lot could get full quickly. The Tallulah Gorge canyon, which is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep, is also worth exploring. (The 100 permits available daily often go quickly.)
Other Georgia state parks are hosting kayak, paddling and pontoon boat rides around the time of the eclipse.

Lowcountry Stargazers, Charleston, South Carolina

A group of self-described amateur astronomy lovers, the Lowcountry Stargazers will have their telescopes set up at two Charleston parks: Palmetto Islands County Park in Mount Pleasant, and Old Santee Canal Park in Moncks Corner.
Palmetto Islands County Park opens at 8 a.m. and charges a $2 admission fee, while Old Santee Canal Park opens at 9 a.m. and doesn't charge an admission fee. Parking is expected to fill up quickly.
29 epic places to witness the 2017 solar eclipse

Link to Original Article: Original Article:

This August 21, 2017, something amazing will happen. A total solar eclipse will sweep over the nation from Oregon to South Carolina. For a few short minutes, the regions along the eclipse path will witness totality; a phenomenal experience in which the moon’s shadow temporarily blocks out the sun, making it appear like twilight in the middle of the day—planets, stars, and all.

Traveling diagonally from the West to East Coast, the celestial wonder, known as the Great American Eclipse, will transcend 12 states, with visibility on the outskirts of Montana and Iowa as well. Areas that fall outside of the totality zone will get a show, too, as they experience a partial eclipse, where only portions of the sun will go black.

map of the total solar eclipse across the US

What’s the big deal?
While total solar eclipses are not entirely rare, it has been 38 years since one has been visible on the nation’s mainland and 99 years since a transcontinental one took place in the U.S. If you don’t catch the solar goodness this year, another one won’t pass through the U.S. until 2024, but why wait when you don’t have to?

According to, 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the zone of totality, but even if it’ll take longer than that for you to get to the region, the trek to admire the August 2017 solar eclipse will be so worth it.

Safety Tip
Looking directly at the sun can damage your eyes, so NASA suggests using special eclipse glasses, solar viewers, or pinhole projectors. Many of the destinations within the path of totality are providing glasses with solar filters for your safety.

When it comes seeing this spectacle, close just isn’t close enough. You need to be well within the eclipse 2017 path to see the full shebang. To help guide your solar chasing mission, we’ve pinpointed 29 of the solar eclipse 2017 best locations, where you can look up and see the ring of fire. Not only will these towns and cities provide a front-row seat to the minutes-long blackout, but they are also hosting “solar-brations” to acknowledge the epic event. These destinations also have plenty of attractions, from eateries to nature trails, to keep you amused once the few minutes of glory have passed.


Something else to factor is the sheer number of people who are excited about this event. If you’re traveling to one of the following cities for the 2017 total solar eclipse, keep in mind there may be heavy traffic and road closures in certain areas, so plan ahead by packing food and water in the car. Also, be mindful of restroom and gasoline stops along the way to prepare for any unforeseen delays.

full solar eclipse across america

Lincoln City
Time of totality*: 10:16 a.m.
Length of totality*: 1 minute 55 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Let the countdown begin! Of all the cities, Lincoln City is ultra-special because it’s getting the very first glimpse of the eclipse. Calling it First Landfall, the city is ready for the on-set of solar seekers in areas such as the scenic Roads End State Recreation Site, right along the shore. Arrive early and stake out a swatch of sand anywhere along the seven miles of coastline, like Siletz Bay, and you’ll see the shadow appear as it travels east over the Pacific Ocean. After observing the awesomeness of totality, fuel up at Mojo Coffee with some local Stumptown coffee or an old-fashioned Tillamook milkshake before hitting the road again.


Time of totality: 10:17 a.m.
Length of totality: 1 minute 46 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: To honor this ridiculously unusual occurrence, Silverton is hosting a legendary 4-day Eclipse Viewing Festival at the Oregon Garden, where you can set up camp under the stars on the 80-acre grounds. The eclipse is just an added bonus to the music, activities, food, and libations that they’re serving up all weekend in Oregon’s Garden City. On the day of the big production, Silverton High School will be hosting NASA-coordinated experiments to go along with the science theme. Wondering what to do once the sky goes back to normal? Make a pit stop at Silver Falls State Park, where you can hike to 10 different waterfalls—hello, natural beauty!

Prairie City
Time of totality: 10:22 a.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 6 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Known as the Gateway to the Strawberry Wilderness, Prairie City has its fair share of wide open spaces, perfect for camping out to see the splendid sun-sation. Several areas, such as the McDaniel Ranch and Prairie City School District are welcoming overnight RV and tent campers from near and far. Join Roadtreking’s Total Solar Eclipse gathering at the Emmel Ranch for a 4-day event and get some face time with a local astronomer before witnessing the rarity for yourself. But before getting the heck out of dodge, stay a while: explore some history at the DeWitt Museum or stop in for a bite to eat at OxboW Restaurant & Saloon.

Time of totality: 11:28 a.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 13 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: The Gateway to the Sawtooth Wilderness is starting the solar festivities early with astronomy lectures at the Stanley Museum on August 18, and a Star Party with The Boise Astronomical Society at Sawtooth Valley Pioneer Park over the weekend. On the day of the total eclipse, take the road less traveled and observe the sky while floating down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Adventure Sun Valley is hosting a Solar Eclipse Launch rafting trip, giving you perhaps the most unique seats in the house!
Stanley Idaho field and mountains

Time of totality: 11:33 a.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 17 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Rexburg’s high altitude in the Upper Snake River Valley makes it an especially sweet spot to see the eclipse. Many of the local parks are open for public viewing, while Riverside Park is setting up Vendor Village for a 4-day affair. The local college campus at BYU Idaho is also hosting a number of solar-themed events throughout the weekend, including eclipse lectures and star observing parties. Before making the journey home, trek the Cress Creek Nature Trail and explore the nearby St. Anthony Sand Dunes to see more of nature’s handiwork at play.

Time of totality: 11:39 a.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 13 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Often called Rendezvous City, Riverton is no stranger to community gatherings, and the eclipse is just another excuse for locals to come together and celebrate. Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation is hosting a multiday Arapaho Eclipse Celebration with star viewing parties and eclipse presentations, while the Original 1838 Rendezvous Site, another historically significant location, is featuring a Solar Eclipse Camping event, complete with a “Western Rag” duo and square dancing lessons.


Time of totality: 11:42 a.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 26 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Casper may be a small place, but they’re going big. All around this western town, you’ll find solar-centric events, from the day-long Solabration at Bart Rea Learning Circle to the Eclipse Festival at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds. Even the days leading up to the big moment will be filled with lectures and presentations at ASTROCON 2017. But while you’re focused on the sky, don’t overlook the lush scenery at the base of Casper Mountain—reserve a viewing spot at the National Historic Trails Center or venture out to Garden Creek Falls to really soak it up.

Time of totality: 12:53 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 33 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Nebraska boasts the longest stretch of totality than any other state, so step right up to Stapleton, where you’ll witness the umbral shadow in the beauty of the Nebraska Sandhills. The Logan County Fairgrounds and Augusta Winds Golf Course are playing host to the big event, but the town is showing off its Western manners all weekend long with rodeos, wild horse races, and chicken scrambles. After the shadow makes its appearance, stick around for the After Eclipse Bash & Beer Garden on Main Street for some live music and grub.


Time of totality: 12:57 p.m.
Length of totality: 1 minute 54 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Kearney is stretching out the sol festivities over the course of five days, beginning with a space-themed presentation by NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke and NASA Engineer Renita Fincke on August 17. Astronomers and musicians will present and perform through the weekend leading up to the big bang, with watch parties across the city, from Cope Stadium and Cottonmill Oldfather Prairie Trail to Yanney Park and the Archway. Want to avoid the flurry of people leaving after the eclipse? Wait for the crowds to disperse by lingering at The Flippin’ Sweet, a small pizza joint that’s got everyone talkin’.

Time of totality: 1:02 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 35 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: For something as special as this, you’ll want to hang with the experts, and by experts, we mean Bill Nye the Science Guy. Make your way to the Homestead National Monument, which has been designated as a NASA Broadcast Site, where Billy Nye will make an appearance as NASA scientists livestream the occasion. Relating the “homestead frontiers of the past” to the “homestead frontiers of the future,” the monument will feature scientific and heritage activities all weekend. The Gage County Fairgrounds and Hidden Acres Golf Course are also entertaining with a range of events and viewing parties up their sleeves.

Time of totality: 1:03 p.m.
Length of totality: 1 minute 11 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Marysville, aka Black Squirrel City, is gearing up for the astronomical occasion with a scavenger hunt, eclipse presentation, community dinner, and even a Squirrel Jam music festival. Long before the clock strikes 1 p.m., migrate to one of the designated viewing spots, such as 7th Street Corridor Park/City Park or the Lakeview Sports Complex and wait for the stars to come out in the middle of the day. But instead of joining the mass exodus after the eclipse, hang around for a visit to the Pony Express Original Home Station and wait for the crowds to clear.


Time of totality: 1:06 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 19 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Looking to kill some time before the moon’s shadow blocks out the sun? Plow into one of the area’s largest banana splits at The Snowball ice cream parlor or nosh on some Iron Horse BBQ, and you’ll realize that Atchison is good for far more than just star gazing. Once your belly is full, it’s go time. Make a beeline for the Eclipse Aire Fest, where the Amelia Earhart Airport is featuring a solar shebang, with astronomy presentations and biplane rides. Put your name in the raffle and you could get the chance to fly in the sky during the darkness of the eclipse!

Time of totality: 1:13 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 34 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Begin the epic eclipse countdown at Fulton’s Light & Shadow weekend events, which starts on Friday with an art exhibit that plays with the theme of lightness and darkness. As the waiting game continues, venture to the Sip with the Eclipse event at Serenity Valley Winery for some live music and a hot air balloon glow. Once Monday morning rolls around, snag a section of grass at Morgan Soccer Complex or William Woods University and settle in for the out-of-this-world show. As you find yourself still reeling from the incredibleness of the eclipse, explore Fulton’s other wonders with a stroll through the downtown Brick District.

Time of totality: 1:15 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 19 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: The next total eclipse to sweep through this area won’t be until the year 2505, so it’s kind of a big deal for you to see it this time around. The Katy Trail State Park Augusta Trailhead is a prime place to whip out your eclipse glasses and look toward the heavens, but the region is also celebrating with its Total Eclipse in the Park. Three local parks, including Klondike Park, Broemmelsiek Park, and Quail Ridge Park are spearheading the celebrations. But once the eclipse passes through, knock back a cold one at Augusta Brewing Company and let the crowds disperse before leaving town.


St. Clair
Time of totality: 1:15 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 40 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: At a whopping 2 minutes and 40 seconds long, the eclipse in St. Clair is up there with some of the longest viewing times, and you better believe this city is recognizing it. From Friday onward, you’ll find events all over town, from a parade and movie night to a scavenger hunt and Blue Grass Festival. As for the day of, “Get Your Eclipse on Route 66” at one of the many gathering spots, including Orchard Park, St. Clair Library, and the VFW Post at Old Skylark Motel, which is the closest viewing station to the midline.

Time of totality: 1:17 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 10 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: The celestial spectacle is making an appearance in Waterloo, and the city’s creating a day-long event out of it. The Monroe County Fairgrounds will be decked out for the city’s Solarbration; set to be the ultimate fete with artisan stands, food vendors, and live music—they’ll even have a panel of eclipse experts on hand. After the sky darkens and the sunlight reemerges, praise those rays as you take a stroll around the Historic District before road tripping home.

Time of totality: 1:20 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 37 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Just a few miles north of the point of longest duration, Carbondale is ultra-unique in that the nation’s next solar eclipse will cross over the very same spot in 2024. But forget about waiting seven years, the cosmic celebrations begin now. Shadow Fest is jump starting the show with three days of music, and the Eclipse Marketplace is following suit with musical acts of its own through the weekend. Once you’re all pumped, join fellow sol seekers at Saluki Stadium and catch the NASA coverage as the eclipse rolls through town.

Time of totality: 1:20 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 40 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: All eyes are on Makanda as it steals the spotlight for the longest period of darkness. Not only will the town experience the eclipse at its peak, but like Carbondale, it will see another one in seven years, which is let’s just say, astronomically rare. Celebrate the hoopla at Blue Sky Vineyard’s 4-day extravaganza, eye the hand-painted line of totality that runs through the Rainmaker Studio, and get a special edition solar eclipse stamp from the local post office. Come eclipse day, meet the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at Giant City State Park, and get ready to witness history in the making.


Time of totality: 1:24 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 40 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: With an impressive 2 minutes 40 seconds of total darkness, it’s no wonder Hopkinsville has earned a new nickname: Eclipseville. Starting the revelry early, the weekend Summer Salute Festival and Hopkinsville Eclipse Con are officially responsible for getting everyone hyped up for the viewing. Anyone in Hopkinsville can step outside and look up, but not everyone can witness the eclipse from under water. Pennyroyal Scuba Center is giving divers the most epic opportunity to slip below the surface and experience total darkness from the depths of the Kentucky rock quarry. Who else can say they “dove the solar eclipse?”
hopkinsville field

Time of totality: 1:24 p.m.
Length of totality: 1 minute 47 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: It’s got to be something terribly fascinating to get everyone to stop in their tracks for nearly two whole minutes, and the solar eclipse promises to do just that in Madisonville. This unusual experience deserves more than a few seconds of your time though, and Solar MADness 2017 Festival is ready to fill your itinerary with its MadCity Street Market and Solarpalooza merriment. When the moon does finally shade out the fiery orb, get a good seat at the Hopkins County Fairgrounds, Western Hills Golf Course, or even the Casey Jones Distillery.

Time of totality: 1:25 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 18 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: See what Mother Nature’s got in store in Clarksville. The moon and sun may align for mere minutes, but the party will just be getting started. Beachaven Vineyards & Winery is putting on an all-day solar soiree with live music, games, and food trucks, while the Roxy Regional Theatre is hosting a cook-out, complete with a bloody mary bar and tunes by Murph & The Starliters. The fun doesn’t have to stop after the eclipse though; get a taste of town at the Old Glory Distilling Co. or see if you break out of jail at the mind-boggling Excape Games.

Time of totality: 1:30 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 32 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to the celestial celebrations in Crossville. Of course, we are talking about the Golf Capital of Tennessee, so it’s perfectly fitting for the Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain Golf Course to host a solar eclipse jubilee. Firing off the fun with a Solar Eclipse 5K on Monday morning, the event will include musical entertainment, ranger-led programs, and plenty of moon pies to eat. After the big showdown, wait for the traffic to thin with a craft brew and Farmhouse burger at The Pour House Bistro.


Time of totality: 2:34 p.m.
Length of totality: 1 minute 59 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Star light, star bright, the first stars you should see tonight are in Blairsville, where darkness will cast over the town just past 2:30 p.m. This city is certainly giving into the solar spirit. When the time arrives, mosey over to Paradise Hills Winery, Resort, and Spa for music with the Steel Drum Band; explore the waterfalls at Vogel State Park, or venture to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. However you decide to admire the moonlight, you won’t want to miss having a home-cooked meal at The Hole in the Wall, the oldest diner in the county.


Time of totality: 2:36 p.m.
Length of totality: 1 minute 59 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Witness totality at Totally Toccoa, Main Street’s blackout bash in Historic Downtown Toccoa. The good eats and concert vibes will pair perfectly with the planetary phenomenon, and the live-streaming NASA program at the Ritz Theatre is just an added perk. For something a little more along the lines of nature though, consider eyeing the eclipse from the base of Toccoa Falls, one of the tallest free-falling waterfalls east of the Mississippi. After witnessing the moon’s spooky shadow, recharge with a cup of Joe at Java Station & Cafe before the trek homebound.

North Carolina
Time of totality: 2:34 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 38 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Two minutes and 38 seconds doesn’t seem exceptionally long, but it will when you realize it’s up there with the longest times of any city to experience totality. On the day of the eclipse, you’ll want to soak up every single one of the 158 seconds that the sky is dark in Andrews, and there’s no better viewing spot than Hall Park. Local breweries and wineries, such as Calaboose Cellars and Hoppy Trout Brewing Company are organizing the gig, so you know it’s gotta be good! Don’t just jet out of town the minute the sky brightens back up though, kick it with the locals at MakAly’s on Main and stick around for a pint or two.

Time of totality: 2:35 p.m.
Length of totality: 1 minute 44 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Sylva’s time of totality is just shy of two minutes, which naturally calls for an entire weekend of celebrating. Downtown Sylva is leading the charge with live music starting on Friday at Bridge Park with Concerts on the Creek, followed by Moonlight Madness on Saturday night, when the local shops stay open extra late and offer exclusive deals. Then, on the big day, Bridge Park will have it all, from live music and food trucks to astronomy educational panels. After the solar eclipse does its dazzling performance, check out something perhaps equally quirky in town: The American Museum of the House Cat. A day’s worth of solar celebrations and cat memorabilia is certainly one for the books.


South Carolina
Time of totality: 2:38 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 10 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: When the sky starts to darken, there’s no better place to experience the eeriness than Greenville. But with so many astral events all over town, you’ll have trouble deciding which spot to stake out! Quest Brewing Company is inviting SC band Phuncle Sam to jam at their Standing on the Moon party, while TCMU is hosting astro-themed activities for all ages. You can even watch the sun disappear from Up on the Roof’s celestial rooftop party, catch some live music at Lake Conestee Nature Park, or belly up to Roost’s cash bar at Eclipse over NoMa Square.

Time of totality: 2:41 p.m.
Length of totality: 2 minutes 30 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Get ready for the sun and moon to align with you in Columbia, which is being called the Solar Eclipse Capital of the East Coast. With such a prestigious title, this metropolis must put on a show with more than 100 events to kick off the longest viewing time in the region. You do you: feel the burn during Summer’s End Solar Run, fire up the grill at the South Carolina State Fair Total Eclipse Tailgate, or even watch from the rooftop of the Sheraton, the city’s oldest high-rise. Between the Soda City Viewing Festival at the speedway and the paddling out parties, your schedule will be filled for far more than two-and-a-half minutes.

Time of totality: 2:46 p.m.
Length of totality: 1 minute 33 seconds

Why it’s a hot spot: Give the solar eclipse a proper send off into the Atlantic Ocean! Charleston is one of the very last places to see it in its totality, so let’s make it go out with a bang. Attend Eclipse on a Warship, a special event where you can marvel at the sky aboard the Fighting Lady, or join the solar shindig at MUSC Health Stadium, a family gathering with science activities galore. For an even more mystical view, venture to Folly Beach’s Pier 101 and watch the stars form over the lapping waves as the solar eclipse travels more than 1,500 mph out to sea.

A Visit to the Petrified Wood & Art Gallery in Ogallala, Nebraska

I don’t often write about an art gallery as a tourist destination, but I was particularly impressed by the Petrified Wood & Art Gallery when I found it in Ogallala, Nebraska. Not only was the art work both unusual and stunning, but the artists themselves, twin brothers, were a delight.

Harvey and Howard Kenfield are 89 year old identical twins, and they have been working with petrified wood for the past 65 years. Both were on sight when I visited, and both were delighted to show off their collection and work. The twins now walk with canes, but they’re still very active – and they’ll often disappear into their on-site workshop – to work on another artistic piece. The one twin confided to me that he “felt like he was 39 years old, but they tell me that I’m 89.” Both still had a twinkle in their eye and a love for their work.

After being drafted into the Army and serving together in Korea in the early 1950s, Harvey and Howard returned home and began collecting stones, artifacts, and petrified wood. From 1954 on, the ‘boys’ have spent their lives collecting, designing, grinding, and polishing; they’ve attended many gem and mineral shows over the years – and spent most summer vacations searching for petrified wood (which is a name given to wood that has been turned into stone as the organic tissue is replaced by silica and other minerals). They also had ‘day jobs’ in Ogallala, in local manufacturing plants, but they retired from these back in the 1980s – and opened a Gallery. By the year 2000, the Kenfields decided to donate their collection to the Western Nebraska Community Foundation, with the understanding that it must remain in Ogallala. By 2007, the ‘Friends of the Gallery’ was established and owned the collection. By 2011, the Gallery moved to a larger facility, at 418 East 1st St. in Ogallala.

The Petrified Wood & Art Gallery is a showcase of natural history that specializes in ancient woods and fossils that have been collected by Harvey and Howard. There are many Native American artifacts and arrowheads to be found here, too – and gemstone butterflies and toadstools – and even fossilized leaf and fish imprints. Indeed, it’s quite a collection! Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

It was the appearance of Harvey and Howard themselves that made my visit extra special, for they’re easy to chat with and are so very proud of this collection. They love to talk about the pieces! They told me that some of the petrified wood was found right here in Nebraska, but they also found some in other western states, including Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. I strolled through the Gallery with them and saw cross-cuts of petrified black walnut, Douglas fir, elm, and pine that had been polished to such a luster that these pieces almost appeared as wet! I also saw some ancient petrified bamboo palm fronds and whole pine cones.

There are some very large but intricately detailed art pieces carved from the petrified wood, with stunning geometric patterns – and whittle down into some rather unique shapes. There’s also a collection of spheres that Harvey and Howard had cut, ground, and polished – and they confided that each required “from 30 to 80 hours to complete”. However, my favourite pieces were the cleverly designed, hand-crafted, three-dimensional buildings and objects that the brothers have fashioned entirely out of petrified wood that looks amazingly like weathered barn wood. They told me that they achieved this effect by splitting the petrified wood into tiny slivers of rock that were then glued together. It’s very effective, and they’ve achieved the creation of incredible scenes of a bygone era, including cliff houses, farm houses, grain elevators, wagons, and churches. Their creations of barns, rural scenes, and even outhouses are done with such detail that they almost seemed to jump out at me - and each of their awesome music boxes is accompanied by a piece of music that seems particularly appropriate. For example, the church music box plays “How Great Thou Art”, the wagon plays “Country Roads Take Me Home”, and the outhouse plays “Alone Again Naturally”.

There are also works by other artists on display here, including a great collection of pewter figures, bullet slugs, arrowheads, and some large marble sculptures (including a very large bust of Sitting Bull). One artist has even turned his collection of arrowheads into a stone buffalo. There’s also, of course, a great variety of items for sale in the gift shop.

If you happen to be planning a trip to the American West, then you might want to add a stop at this fascinating Petrified Wood & Art Gallery in Ogallala, Nebraska.

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[John was hosted by Nebraska Tourism]