Greater Columbia, S.C., region gearing up for role as “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast”
March 13, 2017 (Columbia, S.C.) – During the total solar eclipse of Monday, August 21, 2017, visitors and residents in the greater Columbia, S.C., area not only will enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching a total eclipse; they will see the longest 100% total eclipse for a metro area on the entire East Coast of the United States, at 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness. Those who choose to watch the eclipse in the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast” will be treated to a long weekend of eclipse-related festivals and activities being hosted across the region, each of which is listed once submitted by event hosts at the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., website: www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.
Columbia, S.C., Cited as a Top U.S. Viewing City by Experts and National Media
One of the most vibrant mid-sized cities in the Southeast, Columbia, S.C., has been identified as one of the top places in the nation to experience the total solar eclipse by eclipse experts and national media outlets such as USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. In fact, international travelers were already booking eclipse-related travel to Columbia, S.C., as early as Summer 2016.
But I’ve Seen an Eclipse Before – What’s the Big Deal?
Many people have seen partial solar eclipse events, but very few in the U.S. have seen an actual, 100% total solar eclipse, during which the sky darkens suddenly, the temperature drops, stars appear, the sky produces spectacular visual effects and the sun’s corona blazes into view. “Nature’s grandest spectacle” has been known to cause a profound physical and emotional response in the viewer, eliciting goosebumps and feelings of euphoria.
NASA: Up to 1 Million Visitors to S.C. to View Total Solar Eclipse
NASA has estimated that the state of South Carolina could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors to witness this eclipse, projected to be the most-watched total solar eclipse in history due to our modern transportation and telecommunications systems. Columbia, S.C., is the third largest U.S. city on the center line of the “path of totality,” which runs diagonally across the country from Oregon to South Carolina. Astronomy experts have noted that visitors can double the population of a city in the path of totality during a total eclipse event.
“Close” is Not Close Enough
Most of the U.S. – including many communities only an hour from Columbia, S.C. – will only experience a partial eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017. This will be the first total solar eclipse to make a coast-to-coast path across the U.S. since 1918, while the last total solar eclipse over the continental U.S. was in February 1979, when it was visible only from five Northwestern states. (There was a total eclipse over Hawaii in 1991.) The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the greater Columbia, S.C., area will be the year 2078.
“Because of its unique location on the center line of totality during the first total eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years, the greater Columbia, S.C., area is incredibly lucky, geographically speaking,” says Merritt McNeely, co-founder of the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. initiative and director of marketing for the South Carolina State Museum, one of the region’s eclipse event hosts. “Because of this, we saw the need to come together as a region to offer a weekend full of activities for people of all ages to celebrate this amazing phenomenon.”
Darkness in the Middle of the Day
A partial eclipse will begin over Columbia, S.C., starting at 1:13 p.m. EDT. The sky will remain bright, and this partial eclipse period will only be visible with aids such as certified eclipse viewing safety glasses (or via indirect means such as pinhole projectors). When the total eclipse occurs at 2:41 p.m. EDT, darkness will fall rapidly, along with temperatures, which can drop 5-15 degrees. During totality, viewers in the path of totality should remove their eclipse glasses. The extremely rare “corona” around the sun, visible only during a 100% total solar eclipse, will appear in the sky. Nocturnal animals will emerge to begin nighttime routines, and a 360-degree sunset will have deepened around the entire horizon over the capital city.
Once totality has ended, viewers should resume wearing their eclipse glasses to watch the partial eclipse pass. After the longest totality for a metro area on the East Coast, 2 minutes and 36 seconds – roughly one minute longer than other metro areas in South Carolina – the sky will lighten and a partial eclipse will resume (as birds begin to chirp, thinking it is daybreak) until the moon crosses completely beyond the sun’s outline at 4:06 p.m. EDT. The national maximum length of totality is 2 minutes and 41 seconds in smaller municipalities in the Central U.S., making Columbia, S.C.’s 2 minutes and 36 seconds appealing, particularly to those on the East Coast or traveling from Europe.
Details on Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.
Visitors and residents in the greater Columbia, S.C., region will enjoy a long weekend of eclipse-related activities hosted by area attractions, arts and culture organizations, restaurants, hotels, retailers, community groups and more. Confirmed events include a midday Columbia Fireflies baseball game, “Total Eclipse of the Park,” during the eclipse at the brand new, award-winning Spirit Communications Park at BullStreet; a weekend of ticketed astronomy activities and exhibits at the new South Carolina State Museum observatory, planetarium and 4-D theater with a major, ticketed viewing event on Monday featuring astronaut Charles Duke; a Sunday “Musiclipse” matinee of space-themed works by the S.C. Philharmonic at the Koger Center; the Solar 17 eclipse viewing event at the Lake Murray Dam; a large-scale public art installation at the river; eclipse-related tours and programming at Congaree National Park; a Lowcountry Boil & Paella Party at City Roots urban farm; a ticketed viewing party at Motor Supply Co. Bistro; guided historical walking tours at the 12,000 Year History Park on Congaree Creek as well as the “Sunblock” Eclipse Viewing Festival and Eclipse-Eve Drive-In Movie Night in neighboring Cayce, S.C., and more. As events are added, they will be viewable at www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.
“The cultural offerings during Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., will be vast and plenty, leaving lasting memories for those who attend,” notes McNeely. “Our hope is that we impact those who are with us and also leave a legacy of art, music, dance, culinary experiences, educational opportunities and more during this once-in-a-lifetime event.”
A Coalition of Regional Tourism and Cultural Organizations
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. This group includes the Columbia CVB and the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism; the City of Columbia; Capital City Lake Murray Country; the South Carolina State Museum (S.C.’s Solar Eclipse Headquarters for education and training); the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball team; and One Columbia for Arts & History.
The City of Columbia, S.C. is providing major sponsorship, and additional support is provided by the City of Cayce, S.C.
Custom, protective eclipse glasses are available for bulk order via the Columbia CVB, and there are opportunities for sponsorships at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.
About Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.
At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers in the greater Columbia, S.C., area will experience the longest total solar eclipse on the East Coast, with 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in the middle of the afternoon. NASA estimates that South Carolina could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors to witness the first total solar eclipse to make a path all the way across the continental U.S. in 99 years. From Aug. 18 to 21, 2017, visitors and residents in the greater Columbia, S.C., region will enjoy 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. 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. Plan your Total Eclipse Weekend at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.
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