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Solar Eclipse Takes Place Monday, Aug. 21: Tips for Viewing, Safety Measures & Traffic Impact

On August 21, the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” will occur along a 70-mile wide path from Salem, Oregon on the West Coast to Charleston, S.C., on the East Coast. While the last total solar eclipse to take place in the continental U.S. happened 47 years ago, the upcoming eclipse will be the first coast-to-coast eclipse since 1918.

Along the “path of totality” for this solar eclipse, daytime darkness will last up to about 2 minutes and 40 seconds as the moon totally covers the son. The temperature will also drop 10 degrees or more and stars will come out if the sky is clear. 

Eclipse times in Boone:

  • Ingress – 1st sight of Moon on solar disk – 1:10 p.m.
  • Greatest partial eclipse ~ 95% coverage – 2:36 p.m.
  • Egress – Moon completely leaves solar disk – 4:01 p.m.

Below are releases that have been coming into High Country Press’ inbox leading up to the Great American Total Solar Eclipse: 

Animation of Upcoming Eclipse’s Path

For more visuals and info about the upcoming eclipse, click to http://nationaleclipse.com/

ECLIPSE MAPS: Detailed maps of the path of totality in each state.


TOTAL ECLIPSE CITIES: A sample list of cities located in the path of totality with representative time and duration samples for comparison purposes.


PARTIAL ECLIPSE CITIES: A list of major cities in the U.S., Canada, and other parts of the world outside the path of totality with percentage of partial eclipse for each.


ECLIPSE ANIMATIONS: A selection of eclipse-related animations and visualizations from NASA.


ECLIPSE OVERVIEW: An outline of some of the unique features, landmarks, and viewing options along the path of totality for each state.


ECLIPSE EVENTS: A listing of over 275 public events, festivals, and viewing parties celebrating the eclipse.


ECLIPSE SAFETY: Information on what’s safe and what isn’t and links to other excellent eclipse safety resources.


ECLIPSE HISTORY: Links to digitized images of newspaper articles reporting on some of the eclipses that have occurred throughout U.S. history.


ECLIPSE CALENDAR: A list of the 80 additional solar eclipses that will occur in the U.S. this century and the states in which they will be visible.


State Climate Office of NC: The Eclipse is Coming, but Will the Clouds Cooperate?

Next Monday, a total solar eclipse will be visible from parts of North Carolina for the first time in more than 47 years. A little after 2:30 pm on August 21, skies will darken in the far southwestern part of the state for around two-and-a-half minutes.

Across the rest of the state, a partial eclipse will be visible as the moon blocks 88% or more of the sun at the peak, with the exact coverage depending on your location. 

But just how visible will this eclipse be? 

Check out the State Climate Office’s latest blog here to learn more. 

Blue Ridge Parkway Prepares for Total Solar Eclipse 
Natural Phenomena & Scenic Views Combine for Prime Viewing Experience

Blue Ridge Parkway staff and volunteers are actively preparing for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. That day, from approximately 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., the eclipse will cross much of the southern section of Parkway on its journey across the United States.  Weather permitting, visitors to this section of Parkway, from Milepost 417 – 469, will have the opportunity to experience 100% totality in approximately 17 overlooks. Additional overlooks in this section, and extending north of this area, will experience varying partial totality.

In anticipation of an unprecedented volume of visitors on the day of the eclipse, Parkway managers are asking anyone interested in experiencing the eclipse on the Parkway to plan ahead and follow these guidelines:

Expect heavy traffic. Have plenty of patience and make sure you have full tank of gas. Rangers may implement short term closures if parking becomes full or roads become congested.

Plan several options for viewing locations and get there early. If parking is full at your first choice location, move to another.

Be prepared. In addition to special viewing glasses, visitors should bring food, plenty of water, a first-aid kit, flashlight, and provisions for changing weather.

Pack it in, pack it out. To help protect park resources, visitors should pack out any trash generated during their time on the Parkway.

Additional information about what to expect and how to prepare is available on the Parkway’s website. On the day of the eclipse, the Parkway will use its Twitter channel for any updates or announcements.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of 21 National Park Service sites in the path of the eclipse. National parks offer a memorable setting for watching the eclipse; and during the eclipse, park rangers and volunteers will be on site at selected overlooks throughout the day reminding visitors about the many other ways to experience the Parkway’s natural and cultural resources throughout the year.

AAA Urges Traffic Safety During Solar Eclipse

With millions expected to travel for the Monday,  Aug. 21 solar eclipse, AAA Carolinas urges traffic safety during the historical event. A total solar eclipse is expected to be visible within a path that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina.  

In South Carolina, Columbia, Greenville and Charleston are forecast to be in the path of totality and should experience the full solar eclipse. Other cities such as Anderson, Greenwood, Sumter and Orangeburg are also in the path of totality. Areas including Rock Hill, Beaufort, Florence and Myrtle Beach lie outside the path and will see a partial eclipse.

It’s projected that most of North Carolina will see a partial eclipse of 90 percent totality or more. Several counties in western North Carolina should see a total solar eclipse.

During the solar eclipse, depending on location, motorists could find themselves driving in the dark, or in low-light conditions during the day.

AAA offers the following driving safety tips during this unusual period of daytime low-light driving:

  • Turn on your headlights well before the eclipse to help you be more visible to drivers and improve your visibility.
  • Reduce speed so you’ll have more time to make an emergency maneuver.
  • Watch out for pedestrians! There may be people standing in or along roadways and streets watching the eclipse.
  • Be a defensive driver.  Be especially aware of the possibility of nearby drivers swerving into your lane.
  • Do not attempt to watch the solar eclipse when driving. (Get to your viewing location well in advance of the eclipse)
  • Don’t depend only on cell phones for navigation. Cell towers could be bogged down and coverage could be spotty in some areas. Visit your local AAA location for maps (free to members).
  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas, first aid kit, water and any necessary medication, should you get stuck in traffic.  

Follow Department of Transportation (DOT) for info on roads, routes and closures, AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

Connect with AAA Carolinas on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AAAcarolinas and follow us on Twitter at @AAAcarolinas.


Celebrate the Great American Total Solar Eclipse on Top of Sugar Mountain

From noon until 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 21 Sugar Mountain Resort’s Summit Express high-speed, six-passenger lift will ferry passengers to the mountain’s 5,300’ peak to view the Great American Total Solar Eclipse, a once-in-a life-time astronomical spectacle. It is the first coast-to-coast eclipse since 1918 and will glide across 14 states, including North Carolina, in the continental U.S. along a 70-mile-wide swath.

With favorable weather, at 2:36 p.m. viewers atop Sugar Mountain will experience a spooky afternoon darkness and a drop in temperature by as much as 10 degrees. Audiences in the High Country can expect the greatest partial eclipse of 95 percent coverage.

According to NASA, those who plan to view the phenomenon should check the safety authenticity of viewing glasses to ensure they meet basic proper safety viewing standards.

Beverages will be for sale at the summit, and the Sugar Mountain Sports Shop will be open offering 30-60% off select items.

For lift-ride ticket prices, group rates, and other details call 800-SUGAR-MT or visitwww.skisugar.com.

Graham County Solar Eclipse: Aug. 21, 2017

Join Graham County at the Stecoah Valley Center for a once-in-a-lifetime experience from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21.

The Solar Eclipse is coming to Graham County and Stecoah Valley Center is in the path of totality! The partial phase will start at 1:05 p.m. and at approximately 2:34 p.m., the valley will have 2 minutes, 35 seconds of total darkness.

With our beautiful 10-acre campus with sweeping mountain views, Stecoah Valley Center is your Natural Destination to view the Eclipse.

The Center will have free admission, free glasses for the first 500 visitors, food and cold drinks for sale, educational activities and music. $5 per car parking. Event will be limited to 500 people.

Frequently-asked Eclipse Questions

Will Stecoah Valley Center allow coolers to be brought in?
Yes, of course, you can bring your own refreshments. Please note, Stecoah Valley Center is an alcohol-free campus so please bring family friendly beverages.

Can I bring lawn chairs, tents, and umbrellas, and grills/cookers?
Feel free to bring your own lawn chairs but due to space limitations please leave your tents, umbrellas and BBQ grills/cookers at home.

Can I bring my pets?

NO! Animals will be scared senseless by the eclipse, and you will want to be enjoying it instead of trying to calm your crazed critters. Experts tell us dogs and cats will NOT like it! Service animals, as defined by the ADA, are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. These dogs will be allowed.

Will SVC have handicap access/parking?

Yes, we will have ample handicap parking and we have handicap accessible restrooms. We will also have an accessible viewing area.

What is a total solar eclipse?
Essentially, it’s when the moon moves right in front of the sun, covering it completely for a very short time. It darkens the whole sky, lets you look right at the sun (only when it’s completely covered, though – you must use special solar viewing glasses (also known as “eclipse glasses”) whenever the sun isn’t completely eclipsed), and shows you the beautiful corona that surrounds the sun. Stars come out, the horizon glows with a 360-degree sunset, the temperature drops, and day turns into night. It’s one of the most beautiful things you can ever see on earth.

Aren’t these pretty common?
Well, one happens about every year or every other year, somewhere on earth. However, you have to be situated in a very narrow strip of land (called the ‘path of totality’) if you want to see the total phase of the eclipse. Otherwise, all you see (with your eclipse glasses, of course!) is a pretty boring partial eclipse. And that strip of land is generally VERY far off the beaten path – like Mongolia, or the Sahara desert, or the ocean somewhere. Very few people (as a percentage of the overall population) have ever seen a total solar eclipse.

What happens during a total solar eclipse?
For sheer visceral impact, a total solar eclipse is not even remotely comparable to a lunar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse, or even major auroral displays. A solar totality stands alone. If you are in the right place, it creates darkness in daytime along a 70-mile-wide ribbon of Earth. The brightest stars come out in midday but not as you might presume: During totality, they appear in seasonal reverse. In summer, the winter constellations emerge; during a winter solar totality, summer’s stars appear.

And that’s not all. An uncommon mind-set takes over people when the Sun, Moon, and your spot on Earth form a perfectly straight line in space. Many observers shout and babble. Some weep. Afterward, everyone proclaims it to be the greatest spectacle they have ever beheld. Beyond that, many are speechless. (Animals also exhibit odd behavior, such as falling strangely silent.)

The experience surpasses all expectations and imaginings:

— The eye sees the transition of the Moon over the Sun differently from photographs; because of under- or overexposure, a camera lens cannot capture the same range of brightness as human vision.

— The delicate tendrils of the Sun’s corona splay into the surrounding sky in a manner wholly different from the way they appear in photos.

— During the 10 minutes before and after totality, when the Sun is more than 80 percent eclipsed and its light arrives only from its edge, or limb, earthly colors turn richer and more saturated, while shadows become stark and oddly crisp—as if a different type of star is illuminating Earth.

— As the Moon slides over the Sun, not only is light blocked in the ribbon of space, but solar heat is, too. The steady drop in temperature usually results in a haunting eclipse wind.

— At 1 minute before and after totality, all white and light-color ground surfaces underfoot (sidewalks, sand, the like) suddenly exhibit shimmering shadow bands everywhere. (Think of black lines on the bottom of a swimming pool that appear to wiggle.) This eerie phenomenon can make your hair stand on end, yet it can not be captured on film. (Try it!) Recent research suggests that shadow bands are the edges of atmospheric temperature cells (air pockets) made visible by the remaining tiny point of Sun. Their motion catches the eye despite their extremely low contrast.

But how do I look at the sun without going blind?
This is a biggie. You CANNOT look at the sun while ANY PART of its bright disk is still visible. The moon does cover quite a bit of it during the partial phases leading up to totality, but you HAVE to use special solar viewing glasses (also called “eclipse glasses”) to look at it during the partial phases.

You MUST use these glasses to look at the sun during this time, and if you use them correctly (according to the instructions printed on them), it’s 100% safe. During the brief period of totality ONLY, when NO bright part of the sun is showing, you can look directly at the totally eclipsed sun without any kind of filters, and you will not believe the sight. In fact, during totality ONLY, you can even look with binoculars if you want.

The view is simply stunning. BUT, IMMEDIATELY after totality, (as soon as you see the really bright diamond ring effect again, when the bright part of the sun returns to view), the glasses have to come back on. To repeat: You MUST use the eclipse glasses whenever the sun is not TOTALLY eclipsed – whenever ANY bright piece of it is visible. No matter what “eclipse times” you may get off the Internet, or out of any books or magazines.

And you CAN look directly at the sun without the glasses ONLY during the very brief time when the sun is in total eclipse (that is, if you’re in the path of totality!). It’s only a minute or two at the most, but the memory of it will last your lifetime. If you’re not in the path of totality, you have to use the glasses for the ENTIRE eclipse, and you will not see any of the cool things during totality that will amaze you. You might as well stay at work, see the pictures in the paper the next day, and go away wondering what all the fuss was about.

Solar Eclipse Presentation at Sagebrush Monday, Aug. 14

Details about the upcoming solar eclipse will be presented by retired Physics & Astronomy Professor Tom Rokoske at the monthly meeting of Torch: A Forum for Reasoned Discourse.  It will be at noon Monday, Aug. 14 at the Sagebrush restaurant in Boone. Those arriving at 11:30 a.m. may chose from a $10 menu.  Guest are welcome.  For more information, call 828-264-8811.
Where: Watauga County Public Library, 140 Queen Street, Boone, NC 28607

WhenWednesday, August 16, 5:30 p.m.

Who: Dr. Tom Rokoske

What: Presentation on Eclipses and the “Great American Solar Eclipse” of 2017

Get ready for the ‘Great American Eclipse‘ with a special presentation by retired Appalachian State University Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy Tom Rokoske at Watauga County Public Library this Wednesday. Dr. Rokoske will speak on the nature of solar eclipses, the significance of this year’s solar eclipse, which will be a a 96% covered partial eclipse in our area, tips for viewing the eclipse safely, and more. Free and open to the public. 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 16th in the Watauga County Public Library Meeting Room.

State Highway Patrol Hopes Eclipse Doesn’t Shadow SafetyIn anticipation of the solar eclipse scheduled to take place on Monday, August 21, the State Highway Patrol is placing an emphasis on safe travel.  Due to the expected number of people taking part in the event, roadways across portions of the state will see a significant increase in motorists.  

A total solar eclipse will be visible in the western portion of North Carolina, drawing several visitors from surrounding states.  Authorities are encouraging onlookers to arrive early for the event in an attempt to decrease the number of vehicles on the roadways at one time. 

Safety Tips Prior to and After the Eclipse:

  • Arrive early to your chosen destination
  • Expect traffic delays closer to the event’s date
  • Be patient
  • Plan alternate routes
  • Monitor traffic reports on local media/radio broadcast
  • Have food and water readily available
  • Remove vehicle from roadway if experiencing mechanical problems
  • If involved in a collision with no injuries, remove vehicle to the shoulder and wait for authorities

Safety Tips During the Eclipse:

  • Do not stop on the roadway
  • Refrain from parking on the shoulder or median portions of the roadway
  • Use designated parking areas
  • Do not wear eclipse glasses while driving
  • Do not drive distracted – Park before attempting to photograph or record the event
  • Watch for pedestrians along the roadway
  • Activate headlights
  • Motorists are requested to avoid calling 911 or *HP(*47) for non-emergency inquiries. 

For updated traffic information, please visit www.drivenc.gov

For further information on the solar eclipse, please visit https://www.nc.gov/eclipse2017

Solar Eclipse Expected to Cause Increase in Traffic on Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests

Due to the increase in visitors expected for the solar eclipse on August 21, U.S. Forest Service staff encourage drivers to understand parking rules and plan ahead for high amounts of traffic on narrow forest roads.

Use extreme caution when driving and parking, and pay close attention to other vehicles, pedestrians, and bikers that will be sharing the roads and will likely be distracted. Plan to arrive early at your destination so that you can park legally.   

“We want visitors who come for the eclipse to have a safe and enjoyable experience. To ensure safety, we need to keep roadways clear for emergency vehicle use,” said Allen Nicholas, Forest Supervisor of the National Forests in North Carolina. “As you travel on forest roads, keep in mind that there has to be enough space for fire trucks and ambulances to get up and down roads in case of an emergency.”

Parking is not allowed in or on roads, and at sites with “No Parking” signs. If a vehicle is impeding the flow of traffic, it will be towed. When parking on a roadside, be aware that unseen ditches often parallel roads. Natural resources and vehicles can be damaged while entering or exiting a ditch and vehicles frequently require towing from these areas.

Popular areas will likely meet capacity early in the day, and visitors may be directed elsewhere. Forest Service management is focused on public safety and protecting natural and cultural resources. It may be necessary to control traffic and parking, as well as restrict access to some areas to reduce the potential for damage. Forest visitors are reminded to check the National Forests in North Carolina Facebook (www.facebook.com/nfsnc)  for safety alerts and road closures put in place to ensure emergency access.

Plan your visit in advance and know what to expect before you arrive. Many roads on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are rough and may not be suitable for vehicles without high clearance or 4 wheel drive. Remote locations outside of developed recreation areas have very limited access and parking, restricted traffic flow, and no facilities with running water. Cell phone service can be limited or unavailable and GPS units are often unreliable in the forest, so plan your route in advance and have a map. 

For more information, check out our website at www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc.

Great American Total Solar Eclipse To Travel Through Western NC on Aug. 21

By Jesse Wood

On August 21, the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” will occur along a 70-mile wide path from Salem, Oregon on the West Coast to Charleston, S.C., on the East Coast. While the last total solar eclipse to take place in the continental U.S. happened 47 years ago, the upcoming eclipse will be the first coast-to-coast eclipse since 1918.

Along the “path of totality” for this solar eclipse, daytime darkness will last up to about 2 minutes and 40 seconds as the moon totally covers the son. The temperature will also drop 10 degrees or more and stars will come out if the sky is clear. 

Franklin is among the larger towns in the eclipse’s path in North Carolina and those couple minutes of darkness will occur at about 2:35 p.m. EDT.

A complete night sky during the day will not occur outside of the “path of totality.” Folks in Asheville will see the moon cover about 99.2 percent of the sun at 2:37 p.m., while the greatest partial eclipse for Boone will occur at 2:36 p.m. with 95 percent coverage.

While the total eclipse is brief, the entire eclipse event could lasts up to four hours. According to info on Appalachian State’s 2017 solar eclipse page, the first sight of the moon on the solar disk will occur at 1:10 p.m., while the moon completely exits the solar disk at 4:01 p.m.

Obviously, great weather and vantage point is paramount to a solar eclipse viewing. But you must also be situated inside the “path of totality” to experience the rare, natural event in its total awesomeness.

Dan Caton, professor and director of observatories at Appalachian State University in the Department of Astronomy and Physics, encourages everyone to try to venture into that 70-mile wide path on the afternoon of Aug. 21. 

“The difference is really night and day,” said Caton, between a partial (even at 95 percent) and total eclipse. 

Space.com described a breathtaking total eclipse as follows:

“The disk of the moon blocks out the last sliver of light from the sun, and the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible. The corona is far from an indistinct haze; skywatchers report seeing great jets and ribbons of light, twisting and curling out into the sky.

“It brings people to tears,” Rick Fienberg, a spokesperson for the American Astronomical Society (AAS), told Space.com of the experience. “It makes people’s jaw drop.”

Check out a video of a solar eclipse in 2010 in Argentina: 

Make sure to follow safety measures when viewing the eclipse. NASA states that the sun is unsafe to directly look at it except during the brief period of a total solar eclipse. When looking at the sun or a partially eclipsed sun, NASA recommends using eclipse glasses or handheld solar views that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard.

Also seek expert advice when attempting to view the eclipse through a camera, telescope, binocular and other optical devices. Click here for NASA’s safety page on solar eclipses.

Learn more:

NASA’s Total Eclipse 2017 page: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/

App State’s Total Eclipse 2017 page: https://cas.appstate.edu/solar-eclipse-2017

NationalEclipse.com: 10 Unique Places To View Total Solar Eclipse 

State by State Guide for Viewing Solar Eclipse

Local events: https://cas.appstate.edu/solar-eclipse-2017/events

App State Event Day of Solar Eclipse

Monday, August 21, 2017, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sanford Mall and Grandfather Mountain Ballroom, Plemmons Student Union @ Appalachian State University

Live streaming of the eclipse from a location of totality, telescopes on the Mall and many interdisciplinary activites on this last day of summer and the day before fall semester classes begin. 

Eclipse times in Boone:

  • Ingress – 1st sight of Moon on solar disk – 1:10 p.m.
  • Greatest partial eclipse ~ 95% coverage – 2:36 p.m.
  • Egress – Moon completely leaves solar disk – 4:01 p.m.