A sunny, summer South Carolina day quickly shifts to “dusk” as darkness takes over the sky in the middle of the afternoon. The air becomes still and cool. Everything is quiet. The temperature drops 5-15 degrees. A 360-degree sunset dips over the horizon as stars and bright planets such as Mars, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter become visible. Nocturnal animals emerge to begin their “nighttime” routines, and the sun’s corona – a rare sight – appears. You are experiencing a total solar eclipse.
On August 21, 2017 at 2:41 pm, twilight will take over Columbia, S.C. for 2 minutes and 36 seconds – the longest duration of total eclipse, or “totality,” for any metropolitan area on the East Coast, making it the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast.” This once-in-a-lifetime celestial spectacle is one of the most unique and extraordinary occurrences one can experience. Most people living in the US have never witnessed a total eclipse due to their rarity.
So, what’s the big deal about experiencing “totality” anyway? Dan McGlaun, a veteran of twelve total solar eclipses explains it perfectly: “For those who choose to experience this eclipse outside the path, a partial eclipse is all they will see. Even if the sun is 99.9% eclipsed for these observers, they will not experience the full, jawdropping, knee-buckling, emotionally-overloading, completely overwhelming spectacle that is totality.”
To celebrate, from Aug. 18 to 21, 2017, visitors and residents in the greater Columbia, S.C., region will enjoy Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., a long weekend of eclipse-related activities hosted by area attractions, arts and culture organizations, restaurants, hotels, retailers, community groups and more leading up to and during the eclipse. USA Today, Forbes, Washington Post and more have named Columbia, S.C., as one of the best places to view the eclipse because of its lengthy duration of totality.
The closer one is to the centerline, the longer their totality experience will be. Columbia is also the third largest city in the U.S. to be on the centerline of totality and the largest city in S.C. with the longest period of totality. The last time a total solar eclipse made its way across the continental United States was 99 years ago. There was a total eclipse over Hawaii in the 1990s and over the Paci c Northwest in 1979, but that’s it. During the total solar eclipse of 2017, the path of totality crosses 11 states – starting in Oregon and finishing in South Carolina.
Now is the time to start planning how you’re going to witness this phenomenon, if you haven’t begun already. This eclipse is projected to be the most viewed total solar eclipse in history. A projected one Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. million visitors are expected to travel to the Palmetto State to witness the eclipse. Luckily, for those who choose to do so in Columbia, the eclipse itself isn’t the only thing to look forward to that weekend. The Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., initiative is spearheaded by a coalition of regional entities whose mission is to create an incredible, weekend- long experience for those witnessing the eclipse in the region.
Whether you’re an astronomy expert, a curious spectator or anything in between, Columbia has something in store for you. Some of the events planned for the weekend include viewing festivals in Cayce, Lexington and on the Lake Murray dam; RV parking and camping at S.C.’s State Fairgrounds; a lowcountry boil and paella party at City Roots farm; a fancy lunch and viewing party at Motor Supply; family-friendly astronomy programming and a NASA exhibit with astronaut Charles Duke at the S.C. State Museum; special releases from local breweries and wineries; ranger-led hikes at Congaree National Park and more. Columbia’s diverse, vibrant culture makes for the perfect weekend getaway; it’s the ultimate viewing hub to celebrate the eclipse before – and during – those exceptional moments when totality takes over.