“Once in a lifetime” eclipse Monday

Thursday, August 24, 2017

It’s almost time.

After months of hype and planning, a total solar eclipse will snake across North America on Monday.

Across the United States, millions of people are expected to travel to the path of totality, a 70-mile-wide ribbon where the sun will be completely covered by the moon.

The path cuts through middle Tennessee, promising crowds and potential headaches as people flock to what has been referred to as a “once-in-a-lifetime” event.

Eclipses occur when the rotation of the moon around the Earth aligns with the sun, blocking out the sunlight.

Total solar eclipses are not common. According to NASA, the last one that touched the continental U.S. was in 1979.

That’s why this event has caused so much excitement, as it passes through some of the most populated areas in the nation.

Henry Horton State Park is hosting eclipse events on Monday with educational events and special eclipse related crafts. The best open areas in the park have been identified for viewing as well.

The Marshall County Memorial Library and Marshall County Schools had planned a Monday viewing event at Westhills Elementary School in Lewisburg Monday.

That event, however, was canceled when the Board of Education chose to close schools on that day.

Monday events scheduled at the schools to learn about the eclipse will take place on Friday instead, at the discretion of the principal.

Eclipse glasses purchased by the schools for students or provided by the library will be sent home Friday.

Most events on the day will be to the north of Marshall County, as people head toward the area of totality.

For Nashville, the moon will start moving in front of the sun at 11:58 a.m.

Totality, when the sun is completely covered, will occur at 1:27 p.m. and last for approximately two minutes.

The moon will finish its transit at 2:54 p.m.

In Sumner County, to the northeast of Nashville, totality will last closer to three minute. It is projected that 170,000 people will travel to the county to view the eclipse.

Marshall County is just outside the path of totality.

Here, the sun will be 98.67 percent obscured.

Much has been made about safely viewing the event.

The eclipse should not be viewed directly without protective eye wear.

Eclipse glasses have been a hot commodity throughout the nation, quickly selling out.

The ultraviolet light from the sun can damage eyesight without protection.

Several recalls of glasses that did not meet the safety standards have also occurred, further confusing viewers.

Approved viewing glasses will be marked with the ISO 12312-2 designation. Lists of reputable manufacturers can be found on NASA.gov.

Both the glasses provided by the schools and the library are from approved vendors.

There are also several methods of viewing the eclipse indirectly.

Instructions for pinhole cameras or other methods are readily available online.

According to the special eclipse section on NASA.gov,, cell phone cameras should not be damaged by the eclipse, although they should be used to view the event, indirectly as well.

Hopefully, after all of the buildup, the skies will cooperate on the day.

The National Weather Service forecast for Monday shows clear skies over Tennessee.

As with any large event, there are concerns about safety.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has warned drivers not to stop on roads or interstates to view the eclipse.

With the large influx of people into a relatively small area, traffic potentially could see serious delays as well.

Cell phone service could also be impacted as large crowds overwhelm available cell towers.

Generally, suggestions have mirrored those given during snow storms in Tennessee: be cautious on the roads and be prepared for travel delays.

Taken from August 18, 2017 printed issue.