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The Great American Eclipse! - A rare TOTAL Solar Eclipse here in GA and nearby SC

The Basics:
Event Type:Learn
Event Location: Likely AOC viewing spot: The Lighthouse on Lake Keowee, 2 hrs NE of Atlanta   Learn: The Great American Eclipse!  - A rare TOTAL Solar Eclipse here in GA and nearby SC  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Mon, Aug 21 2017  12:00 pm >> Mon, Aug 21 2017 5:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 10:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Wed, Jun 21 2017 9:30 pm
Registration Cut Off: Thu, Aug 17 2017 9:30 pm
Event Duration:5 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D1: Easy
Distance:0.2 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:30
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 1 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


The purpose of this event will be to offer Atlanta Outdoor Club members a shared group experience in viewing what has been billed as the "Great American Eclipse." A worthy added goal will be for us to better understand and appreciate the science behind this "mind-blowing rare astronomical phenomenon" when the dark round shadow of the new moon gradually moves across the bright disk of the midday sun. During a total solar eclipse the moon completely occults the sun's disk for a few minutes along a narrow "path of totality" on earth, and several centuries are likely to pass between successive total eclipses that are visible from the same location.

ECLIPSE PATH through the US: On the afternoon of Monday Aug 21, 2017 the moon's shadow will sweep across the entire "lower 48" in about 3 hours, with all of the partial and total eclipse phases occurring in the US between 12:05 PM and 3:10 PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time).  The "path of totality" that surrounds the longest-duration "center line" of the eclipse is about 67 miles wide.  It will enter the US from the Pacific Ocean and include a successive swath across the heartlands of these states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee and finally South Carolina before exiting the US into the Atlantic. The totality path will also include small portions of a few other states including GA and NC.

THE ECLIPSE in GA:  Sadly this eclipse will not be visible in metro Atlanta as a "TOTAL eclipse," but it will be in the far NE corner of our stateweather permitting.  The "center line of max totality" passes through Rabun County near Clayton, GA.  Totality will occur between about 2:35 and 2:38 PM along that 12-mile swath of NE GA, and also in the nearby NC and SC mountains & foothills (within about that same 3-minute period).
This will be the first TOTAL eclipse visible from anywhere in Georgia since March 7, 1970, when the narrow path of totality passed through the SE portion of the state near Savannah and St. Simons Island.  That one 47 years ago was enjoyed in Atlanta and throughout most of the eastern US as a "PARTIAL" eclipse from wide-ranging viewing locations outside its totality path, as this one will also be - see more below.  On May 30th, 1984 there was also a very memorable "annular" eclipse that we enjoyed viewing here in Atlanta, with a thin ring of sunlight visible around the moon for a few seconds at max eclipse.

DON'T MISS the PARTIAL PHASES!  Although the max length of TOTALITY of this eclipse will be only about 2-1/2 minutes as viewed from any single location along its "center line" the "partial phases" (when a varying size "chunk of the sun is missing" before and after totality) are also amazing and will last up to about 90 minutes each, even at locations outside the totality path.  Weather permitting, viewers throughout the entire "lower 48" (including ALL of Georgia)  and will get to see AT LEAST 55% of the sun's disk obscured at max eclipse.  As the moon's shadow "nips away" at the midday sun, weird things begin to happen:  Splotches of sunlight under trees become crescent-shaped and wild birds may "go to roost" in the trees assuming that night is arriving.

SPECIAL REASONS to "GO TOTAL!"  We astronomy buffs consider it well worth the effort to travel a few extra miles or hours for the opportunity to view a solar eclipse from near the center line of its totality path.  During the few minutes of totality amazing "special effects" appear, including "Baily's Beads," the "Diamond Ring Effect," and the brilliant "Solar Corona."  Also the bright planet Venus may appear in the sky near the sun.  Such phenomena aren't visible at all in places where the eclipse is "partial," even if a tiny crescent of the sun's disk remains unobscured by the disk of the new moon (as in the above eclipse photo).

TENTATIVE AOC VIEWING STRATEGIES:  During the first 7 months of 2017 we'll firm up several alternate viewing locations near the eclipse "center line" - then during the week or two prior to the eclipse we'll keep a very close eye on the weather.  If cloudiness or rain is expected at any of our considered locations we should be prepared to drive up to 2 or 3 hours further to an alternate spot in TN, NC or SC that is likely to have better sky clarity.
  One of the closest center-line viewing spots (to Atlanta) if the weather cooperates is "The Lighthouse" on Lake Keowee - click the link below for details.  It's an easy 2-hour drive from Atlanta, in the SC Blue Ridge foothills a few miles off I-85 and  just "upstream" from Lake Hartwell.
  An excellent alternate venue (in addition to The Lighthouse) for viewing the eclipse has been proposed by AOC trip leaders Joyce Taaffe and Carol Unger.  They have posted a "D5-difficulty-level" event for hiking the Arkaquah Trail to the summit of GA's highest mountain, Brasstown Bald, where weather permitting, they'll get to see the eclipse in its brief Total phase as well as both long Partial phases.   Here's the link to their article

SPECIAL FILTERS & APPARATUS for SAFELY VIEWING the ECLIPSE:  It's absolutely safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye during its few minutes of totality, but it's necessary to use special safety gear for staring at the sun during the partial phases; i.e, the same eye-safety guidelines as for viewing the sun on any normal day.  I (Charlie) have several items of viewing gear that I'll bring to share during the event, including solar-filtered sunglasses, solar-filtered binoculars and a filtered telescope.  It is also likely that some of my friends in the Atlanta Astronomy Club will join us and they can provide some fine solar telescopes and other special eclipse gear to share.

The following Wikipedia article includes 4 "Gallery" video clips that show how the moon's shadow and its dark central "dot of totality" sweeps eastward across the US obscuring the sun. The "rightmost" of the 4 videos is my favorite.  Click it for an inspiring 1-minute-long animated NASA-produced overview of the eclipse.,_2017

The following NASA webpage features an amazing easy-to-use interactive map of the eclipse path across the US that lets you zoom in & out (in "road map or satellite view") and click to determine the exact time the various partial and/or total phases begin and end at any location in the US.  Subtract 16:00 to get Eastern Daylight "PM" times from the "Universal Times" that are given -"17:00, 18:00...etc."  For example, by zooming and clicking on Atlanta a table pops up that shows that the partial eclipse phases begin here at 17:05 UT and end at 20:01 UT.  Subtracting 16:00 from each UT time results in 1:05 PM EDT (when Atlantans can first notice a "missing chunk" of the sun ) and 4:01 PM EDT (when the entire disk of the sun is again visible in Atlanta).  Here's that interactive Map link:

Here's a fine "all-round" 2017 "National Eclipse" webpage.  It has lots interesting facts & graphics about this and other eclipses - also features good-quality but inexpensive viewing gear you can order such as "sunoculars."

"The Lighthouse" is a fine restaurant & bar and special events center on the waterfront of Lake Keowee in SC's scenic "upcountry." Siituated directly on the "center line" of the Aug 21st eclipse it should be an ideal viewing spot, weather permitting.  With a panorama of the "yawning Blue Ridge" the palatial restaurant features an upstairs private dining room that I've already tentatively reserved for lunch on Aug 21st.  It also boasts a lakefront "cabana bar" with its own seafood delights and specialty drinks.  Here's their website:

A few more details, contingency plans, etc. will be added later to this article.  -CFC 1st draft on 8/29/2015 , with revisions made on 1/19/2017

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Address: 1290 Doug Hollow Rd, Seneca, SC 29672   Phone: 864-888-4446

Lat/Lon Coordinates to enter as your GPS destination address: 34.7759,-82.9197

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):0Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 10:00 am
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Registration for this event opens at 6/21/2017 9:30:00 PM