Prime Viewing Locations for the Great American Eclipse of 2017

Tennessee will soon bear witness to one of the most awe-inspiring celestial events that can be seen from Earth. The Great American Solar Eclipse will be occurring Monday, August 21, 2017. The eclipse will spend the day making its way across a specific path, which will lead it from coast to coast. Good news for us in East Tennessee, we have a prime view from which to watch all the solar festivities.

As we reported last week, several area schools have already decided to close on the day of the eclipse, due to concerns of student safety. The eclipse is set to happen in our area anywhere from 2 to 4 pm, and this could cause several distractions for busy rush hour traffic. Since the kids have the day off from school, we might as well try to make the solar eclipse an educational experience.

There are several locations around the area that will have a great view of the eclipse. Experts say that it will help to have clear skies, obviously, and to choose a location in the direct path of the eclipse. A prime place to watch from in East Tennessee is Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest point of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will hold a special ticketed event for the eclipse, which is already sold out. Ocoee is also a great place to watch the eclipse with the family. It is in the direct path of the eclipse, and the company Adventures Unlimited is planning an eclipse rafting trip along with middle of the Ocoee River. The event is $70 per person, but the price includes viewing glasses. Dinner and live music are to follow the eclipse event.

Townsend is another great place to watch the events of August 21. River Rat Tubing in Townsend will hold the “Totally Tuber Solar Eclipse Celebration.” The event is $25 per person, and every participant will receive a glow in the dark t-shirt and a unique view of the eclipse from the river. After the eclipse, there will be live music and family activities for all ages.

If you are looking to stick a little closer to home for the eclipse, fear not. Several area libraries are holding eclipse viewing parties. The libraries participating include the Jefferson County Libraries, King Family Library, Sevier, and Blount county libraries. Libraries will be open all day and all have some kind of special event going on for the day.

While at any of these events, please remember to take care of your eyes during the eclipse. Most organized events should provide glasses, but make absolutely sure that you have a pair available. Without the proper precautions, looking at the eclipse may cause permanent damage to your retinas, and you may not realize the damage is happening until it is too late. Staring at the eclipse is unlikely to bring you direct pain, so you won’t know that serious damage is being done. Unless you are in a location at 100% eclipse totality, it is unsafe to stare at the eclipse. Most locations nearby are 90% covered by the eclipse, so damage can still occur through the glasses if you stare continuously. Always check with your event organizers or NASA to see if a location is fully safe for viewing the eclipse.

Sunglasses will not protect you during the eclipse. There are special requirements that glasses must meet to be deemed safe. Eclipse glasses should have American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, TSE 17, and Baader Plantariumc (Astro Solar Silver/Gold film only.) You may purchase these glasses online or check out your local library for a pair. Enjoy the momentous eclipse, and have fun with the proper precautions.

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

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