Small but Stellar
Madras, Ore. It is a largely agricultural community of 6,000 people in central Oregon that is attracting a huge amount of attention from eclipse chasers, given its reliably clear summer weather and position in the center of the path of totality. Hotels in Madras have been sold out for years. The Days Inn, in nearby Bend, Ore., was advertising standard rooms at $1,600 a night as of May 1. But officials in Madras say there are still plenty of campsites, and visitors will have a chance to take in live music, check out a superb aviation museum, hike at Smith Rock State Park, and sample brews at dozens of brew pubs in Bend.
Hopkinsville, Ky. A farm just outside Hopkinsville has the distinction of being considered the “point of greatest eclipse,” which means that from the center of the earth, the moon makes its closest path across the sun there, giving viewers the best view of the solar corona, which some say looks like a bright diamond ring. Brooke Jung, who is coordinating Hopkinsville’s eclipse marketing efforts, says the eclipse is the most exciting thing to happen to the town — which they are now branding “Eclipseville” — since the same date (Aug. 21) in 1955, when a dozen “little green men” allegedly landed nearby in a spaceship.
In addition to their annual Little Green Men Days festival, which commemorates the extraterrestrial occurrence that supposedly inspired the 1982 film “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” eclipse chasers can drink moonshine at two bourbon distilleries, attend a Comic-Con event, and take in the Friday night bluegrass jam at the nearby Rosine Barn. Ms. Jung says that the county has closed schools for the day, ordered 100,000 pairs of solar eclipse glasses ($1 each), and has requested 85 members of the National Guard to direct traffic.
“It’s like us and the other towns in the center of the path of totality are preparing to host a Super Bowl,” she said.
Jefferson City, Mo. Capital Eclipse Village, in northern Jefferson City is the center of the action, with live music, art installations, circus-style performances, beer and wine stands and children’s activities. The site Capital Eclipse (capitaleclipse.org) lists programming there and elsewhere in Jefferson City. The total eclipse is expected at 1:14 p.m. for 2 minutes 29 seconds.
Lincoln, Neb. Haymarket Park, near the city center, is one of the largest viewing sites in the area. On the day of the eclipse, professors from the University of Nebraska’s department of physics and astronomy will set up sun-viewing telescopes and will be on hand to answer questions. There are a number of other places to see the eclipse and ways to celebrate it, including a “ribfest” ahead of the event and a commemorative T-shirts. The eclipse can also be seen from 125 smaller parks in and around Lincoln. Totality is expected at 1:02 p.m. for 1:24. Although most hotels in Lincoln are sold out during the eclipse period, Tracie Simpson of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau office can help you find accommodations. Contact her at [email protected] or 402-434-5339.
Nashville The most promising eclipse event is the Music City Solar Eclipse Festival & Viewing Party at the Adventure Science Center, a popular children’s science museum. Though the festival starts on Sunday, Aug. 20, the highlight is total eclipse day, where totality is expected at 1:27 p.m. for 1 minute 55 seconds. Indoor activities include multiple showings of Eclipse: The Sun Revealed, a show in the planetarium that the center produced in honor of the eclipse. Outdoors a giant screen will show NASA’s broadcast of the eclipse from space. There will also be science-themed games, food trucks and solar telescope viewing stations. The easiest way to find a place to stay is to search for hotels on the Music City Solar Eclipse Package page, provided by the city’s Convention & Visitors Corp. Make sure that wherever you stay, you listen to the city’s eclipse Spotify playlist.
Casper, Wyo. The community is putting on the Wyoming Eclipse Festival, a five-day celebration culminating on Aug. 21. The festival has more than 40 events throughout the city, including races, music concerts and space-related exhibits. Also, on Sunday, Aug. 20, Ira Flatow, the host of the NPR show “Science Friday,” will give a speech at Casper College’s Wheeler Concert Hall titled “Science Is Sexy.” On eclipse day, when totality is expected at 11:42 a.m. for 2 minutes 26 seconds, the city will have several viewing events such as Solabration on the Circle, at Bart Rea Learning Circle along the North Platte River, which includes guided yoga, children’s activities, breakfast and viewing glasses. The cost is $110 a person plus $33 per car for parking. But it will be tough to find a place to stay. All public campgrounds in the area are sold out, and most hotels are also full. “We’re encouraging travelers to consider alternatives such as private land camping or home rentals through sites such as Airbnb,” said Anna Wilcox, the executive director of the Wyoming Eclipse Festival.
Columbia, S.C. The Total Eclipse Weekend lists more than 50 eclipse events taking place in Columbia from Aug. 18 to 21. One example: Solar 17 at Lake Murray, the city’s largest viewing area, will have tents set up, and guests can receive free water and viewing glasses. Totality is expected at 2:41 p.m. for 2 minutes 36 seconds.
Charleston, S.C.: Of the more than 100 eclipse events listed on Go Dark Charleston, one of the largest is expected to be Eclipse on a Warship, which takes place on the aircraft carrier and warship museum U.S.S. Yorktown. Visitors will be able to catch the eclipse from the boat’s flight deck, where Dr. Christian Iliadis, chairman of the department of physics and astronomy at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, will give a presentation on the eclipse and answer questions. Totality is expected at 2:48 p.m. for between 90 seconds to two and half minutes. A full listing of hotels is available on the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau site.
Continue reading the main story