If you're planning your trip to see the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, you may want to check out one of the many festivals and public events taking place across the country.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the disk of the moon entirely covers the sun. The 2017 total solar eclipse will be visible across the U.S., in a region called the path of totality. (Skywatchers in parts of the country outside this path will see only a partial solar eclipse.)
Many of the towns and regions along the path of totality are organizing events for the throngs of people who are expected to arrive on Aug. 21. If you're planning on making a trip to see the total solar eclipse, here are a few festivals and public events you might want to check out. [How to Safely Watch The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse]
- The Oregon Solar Fest in Madras Oregon. This one looks epic. Hosted at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, this event will include music, lots of food and shopping vendors, and, of course, eclipse viewing. Hotels are booked, but tent and RV spaces may still be available. Tickets are required.
- The Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience in Madras, Oregon. Hosted at Madras High School football field, this event will give attendees solar viewing glasses and viewing instruction. There will also be hourly astronomy talks, a Sunday evening "star party," exhibitions and vendors.
- The OMSI Total Solar Eclipse Viewing Party in Salem, Oregon. A third event in Oregon, this one takes place at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem. This massive festival will also feature science lectures, entertainment and vendors. Tickets are required.
- The Glendo Total Solar Eclipse festival in Wyoming. The town of Glendo lies close to the center of the path of totality, and will host four-day festival (Aug. 18-21) featuring exhibits and displays, public speakers and eye-safety seminars. The festival will also have facilities and food vendors.
- The Total Solar Eclipse/150 Years Festival in Lathrop, Missouri. Another four-day festival (Aug. 18-21), this event will feature lots of special activities. Tickets are required for RV site reservation, campsite reservation and access to the primary viewing area.
- Eclipse viewing at the Rosecrans Memorial Airport in St. Joseph, Missouri. Front Page Science will host this observing event. While an exact schedule hasn't been published, the website indicates there will be solar-observing events on Aug. 19 and Aug. 20 as well. This event is free.
- Capital Eclipse Celebration in Jefferson City, Missouri. Located near the center of the path of totality, Jefferson City will host three days of eclipse-related events, music and other entertainment, and viewing. Tickets may be required for some activities.
- Events in the greater St. Louis area. The total solar eclipse will be visible only in some parts of the city of St. Louis, but nearby cities deeper in the path of totality will host eclipse festivals and events. Those sites include St. Clair, Herculaneum, and Chester.
- The Hopkinsville Summer Salute Festival in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. This town is home to the "point of greatest eclipse," which means the moon will cover the sun for the longest period of time. The city is preparing for large crowds, so there are multiple options for eclipse viewing there, as well as activities to do before and after.
- Chattooga Belle Farm and Distillery Eclipse Fest in Long Creek, South Carolina. Located extremely close to the center of the path of totality, this two-day festival will feature music, food, vendors, astronomy talks and gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tickets required.
- City of Clayton, Georgia. Smack dab in the middle of the path of totality, the city of Clayton is preparing to welcome eclipse visitors, with public-viewing areas and local events.
- Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, South Carolina. What better place to view the eclipse than from a science center? Poised to experience about 2 minutes of totality, the Roper Mountain Science Center will feature a special eclipse-week activities starting on Aug. 14, including a new planetarium show. The center will have astronomers on hand during the eclipse, on Aug. 21.
- Total Eclipse Weekend in Columbia, South Carolina. The city of Columbia lies very close to the center of the path of totality, and the entire city is gearing up for the event. Starting on Aug. 18, "attractions, cultural institutions, hospitality and retail businesses in Columbia … will host special eclipse-related events," according to the city's eclipse website.
Be sure to check the website for the event you plan to attend, to find out when the eclipse will be visible in that location, and to get information about parking, facilities and access. Some of these events require attendees to purchase tickets. NASA and the American Astronomical Society have recommended that people planning to travel to see the eclipse make their travel arrangements as early as possible.
And remember to be safe when viewing the solar eclipse. Looking directly at the sun can cause permanent eye damage.
For more events, check out NASA's eclipse website, which includes seven different maps that can help you find an ideal location to view the eclipse. The "general events" map features an index of festivals, viewing parties, exhibits, talks and other events surrounding the eclipse, including those listed above. (Not all of the events on that map are within the path of totality, and the length of the eclipse will vary depending on how close the location is to the edge of the path.)
The NASA website also features links to find out about libraries and science museums that will be doing eclipse-related events or having eclipse-viewing events in August. A map of "official NASA viewing locations" shows the "broadcast locations" where the agency will broadcast eclipse coverage as part of its total eclipse webcast. That map also shows "official viewing locations," which have been designated because they will have an on-site subject matter expert (SME), who will be able to talk about the science of the eclipse and eclipse-viewing safety. Not all of the official viewing locations are within the path of totality.
The eclipse is still six months away, but you should absolutely start making your travel plans now!