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Excerpted from an article by Karen Chavez for Asheville Citizen-Times.

“It’s still five months away, but August 21 has Western North Carolina buzzing, and busy making plans.

This is the date of the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse, a rare astronomical event in which the Earth, moon and sun line up so that the moon completely obscures the sun, revealing the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, and plunging places along its path into complete darkness.

The eclipse will only be seen in the US, starting on the Pacific Oregon coast, darkening a southeastern path to the Atlantic Ocean out of South Carolina.

Parts of Westenr North Carolina will get a front row view to the celestial extravaganza, including Brevard and Rosman in Transylvania County, Sylva and Cullowhee in Jackson County, Robbinsville In Graham County and part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This will be the first total eclipse seen exclusively in the US since before the nation’s founding in 1776.

Brevard College will open the campus to the public August 21, with activities geared toward a fun day for students before classes start, and a chance for the public to snag a prime viewing spot.  The eclipse in Brevard will start at 2:30 p.m.

The last time there was a total solar eclipse in Brevard was 1865. The next one will be in 2153.  So unless people plan a cryopreservation, this is the chance to see it.  It becomes night in the middle of the day…birds stop singing.

The college plans to give out special eclipse viewing glasses that everyone must wear to protect damage to their eyes.  Entry is free.  At least 1,400 people are expected.  The Brevard Music Center is planning a special concert with a “big name performer” yet to be named.

Another serendipitous occurrence is that the eclipse will pass directly over the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute in Transylvania County.  It will be home to two NASA research teams during the eclipse, hundreds of amateur astronomers and visitors lucky enough to snag tickets.

Gorges State Park in Sapphire, Transylvania County is also planning a three-day slate of eclipse festivities called “The Eclipse at Gorges.”  Gorges is the only state park in North Carolina that will be in the zone of totality, pouring on the pressure to throw a great party.  There will be guided hikes by rangers, exhibitors, food trucks, music and face painting.  There will be free admissions for the first 1,400 cars – the limit of the parking lots.

Lodging is already booking up in Transylvania County and Jackson counties, so making reservations now is a smart move.

SOURCE:  Karen Chavez for the Asheville Citizen-Times   IMAGE: addins.kwwl.com

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