Eclipse chasers around the world know where they’ll be on August 21, 2017.
On that day, the continental United States will experience a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse, starting in Oregon, through Wyoming, Missouri to South Carolina. The central path runs through a dozen states, though every continental state will see at least a partial eclipse. At the point of greatest duration in rural Illinois, the total eclipse will last 2 minutes and 40 seconds.
The last coast-to-coast total solar eclipse occurred in 1918. Court Priday, the proprietor of a Madras, Ore. inn, said it has been booked solid since 2012: “There isn’t a hotel vacancy within a three-hour radius.” Kayce Telles, a hotel representative in St. Joseph, Mo., received the first room request for eclipse weekend in 2013. She has taken calls from as far away as France, Italy and Japan.To boost tourism, savvy city chambers of commerce located along the path are promoting the eclipse on their websites, advertising eclipse-themed festivals and events with a countdown clock to August 21.
Sleeping under the stars is another popular – and economical – option for eclipse weekend.
Malou Watson manages a KOA campground near Murphy, N.C., in Nantahala National Forest that has been fully booked for eclipse weekend since January. “Hotels nearby have been calling us to see if we have any cabins available for overflow guests,” she said.
Casper, Wyo., a town of 60,000, is expected to swell to over 100,000 people on eclipse weekend. Morris Carter, who leads a wagon train tour, warns August tourists, “They’re going to have a tough time if they don’t get on it soon.” Jay Ryan, a former astronomy teacher and avid sky watcher, has been anticipating this event for 47 years, since as a young boy he missed seeing the solar eclipse that skirted the eastern United States in March 1970.
He’s arranged to travel eight hours to a Tennessee farm to have the best view within the narrow path of totality. While there, he will lead an educational program for a group of homeschool families.
Ryan hopes that many will come to know Christ after witnessing God’s invisible power in such a visible way. “Only the Lord can stir the individual heart,” he says, “but a total solar eclipse is known to be a personal, emotional event.” Author James Fenimore Cooper in 1806 wrote after experiencing a total solar eclipse, “Never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly manifested the majesty of the Creator.”
Eclipse watchers should book accommodations if necessary, leave early – traffic is expected to be heavy on interstates – and don’t forget protective eyewear to prevent retina damage during the partial stages of the eclipse.
Ryan suggests, “If you’re in the path, invite someone over.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sandy Barwick writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)