In one year, we will be seeing one of the more rare phenomena in the natural world: a total solar eclipse across the United States. And guess what? The maximum eclipse time will be just to our west in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
Types of Solar Eclipses
All Solar Eclipses involved the Sun being partially blocked by the Moon, but eclipses are separated into three kinds: partial, annular and total.
- Partial occurs when the Sun is only partially eclipsed by the Moon.
- Annular occurs when the Sun being nearly totally blocked by the Moon, but there is still a ring of Sun rays around the Moon.
- A total eclipse occurs when the Sun is briefly 100% blocked by the Moon.
At least one type of Solar Eclipses occurs each year, but total eclipses are an entirely different thing. Total solar eclipses very rarely affect exact and specific parts of the globe. Associated with a total solar eclipse is something called The Path of Totality. This is the path that is 100% blocked by the moon as it travels across the Globe. This is often times thousands of miles long, but only 100 miles in width. Thus, why a total eclipse is so rare.
The 2017 Eclipse
As mentioned before, the August 21, 2017 total eclipse will be moving southeastward throughout the day towards SoKY! Several areas in the region will be able to see the Total Solar Eclipse, but not everyone!
Of note is Bowling Green, on the northern edge of the path of Totality. However, just a 20-30 minute drive to Franklin or Russellville will place you directly into the path of Totality. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it is one that you don’t wanna miss (the next one isn’t until 2024)
One of the coolest maps that I have discovered is found here. You can tap on your town in the map, and it will give you information on the length of time that you may see Totality, and how long you’ll see a partial eclipse. Unfortunately, this falls on the first day of the semester for WKU students next year, but I can’t imagine that many will hold their first day of class that day.
That amazing solar eclipse (with totality in Western KY) is the same day as the first day of classes in 2017. No one will focus on class!
— Evan Hatter (@ehatt493) August 10, 2016
Preparations have already been ongoing for an event of this magnitude. As you can see above, this is the first Total eclipse near the region in several hundred years, and it isn’t likely we’ll see one like this again. Astronomy groups are already booking hotels all along the path of Totality as it crosses the United States next year, and I would imagine that more will go as we get closer to the actual eclipse.
How to View The Solar Eclipse
What makes this eclipse so great is that it is passing directly through the region. This will allow for easy access to the eclipse without having to worry about paying a lot of money to travel cross-country or across the world to see it. This likely is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most.
As you can see, the path of Totality is easily accessible in both Kentucky and Tennessee, and passes through Nashville. I am sure there will be plenty of places open to the public, so plan ahead!
One of the tougher things about a Solar Eclipse is how to actually view it. Many think that staring at the eclipse itself is okay because the Sun will be 100% blocked, but that isn’t the case. A solar eclipse is supposed to be viewed only through special techniques including:
These will protect your eyes, while giving you a great view of the sun. If you do not buy/create Solar Eclipse protection for your eyes, be sure to avoid staring at the Sun for any length of time.
This event will be significant for the region and the state, and will bring in a set of people who haven’t been to Kentucky before. I am excited for the event, and how awesome it will be. Hurry up, August 21, 2017! Lets go! For more info, check out the NASA preview page for the event.