On Aug. 21, 2017, America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse.
The so-called Great American Total Solar Eclipse will darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide. People who descend upon this “path of totality” for the big event are in for an unforgettable experience.
According to Forbes Magazine this are six most interesting places where you can best view this rare solar phenomenon — most venues offer lectures; great food; science, film art and music events as well. Whether you’re an umbraphile (who loves total eclipses) or just someone who likes to be where the awesome action is, you’ll find both celestial spectacle and true Americana:
1# The Wyoming Eclipse Festival, Casper
Because the state’s second-largest city has an altitude over 5k feet and usually clear skies, it holds Astrocon, the national convention of the Astronomical League, this year Aug. 16-19, preceding the eclipse. Events in and around Casper will focus on the sun event, but also other stars.
2# Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
Think Stonehenge on England’s Salisbury Plain — except cars replace the stone slabs, and this folk-art replica is in western Nebraska. Thirty-nine vintage automobiles are placed in the same proportions as Stonehenge, with a 1962 Cadillac marking the heel stone.
Artist Jim Reinders built Carhenge as a memorial to his father. It was dedicated on the day of the summer solstice in 1987 and draws about 60,000 people each year. As the artwork is right in the path of totality, you can enjoy a quirky eclipse.
3# St. Joseph, Missouri
A weekend of workshops and lectures in St. Joseph leads up to the eclipse, with a huge, free public viewing event at Rosecrans Memorial Airport, where the duration of totality will be 2 minutes and 39 seconds, one second less than the max possible for this eclipse. Plus, Missouri barbeque!
4# Southern Illinois University & Vineyard, Carbondale
The eclipse track will last the longest — 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds — inside Giant City State Park in southern Illinois, next to the Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda. So you can raise a glass or more of wine to the sun show.
Just north, Southern Illinois University (SIU) and the city of Carbondale, will be hosting a public viewing session from Saluki Stadium, with tailgating, presentations, a citizen-science area and telescope viewing. Carbondale is hosting other events and festivities, starting on Aug. 19, including live music and an eclipse marketplace.
SIU is billing Carbondale as the “Eclipse Crossroads of America,” because if you miss this year’s total eclipse, you can wait for 2024 when Carbondale will be in the path of the next one to pass over the U.S.
5# Ground Zero (or Solar Zero), Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Hopkinsville in western Kentucky is the ninth-largest city in the state and is the population center closest to where the axis of the moon’s shadow passes closest to the center of Earth — about 12 miles northwest of the city center.
It’s also where the width of the moon’s shadow is widest, the altitude of the sun in the sky near its highest and the duration of totality nearly the longest (2 minutes and 40.1 seconds).
The city will offer certified viewing sites and science seminars, and a movie series. City organizers are also moving the now rebranded “Summer Salute” festival to coincide with the eclipse.
6# Planetarium, Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the largest city in the eclipse’s path, and its Adventure Science Center will offer a public eclipse event. The Sudekum Planetarium, with a Goto Chiron optical star projector capable of projecting up to 6.5 million stars, will present “Eclipse: The Sun Revealed.”
Plus, there’s the great music city to enjoy when the sun is out.