Solar Eclipse 2017
On Aug. 21, the United States will experience “The Great American Eclipse” — an event nearly a century in the making. As the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire country since 1918, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime celestial spectacle. Those within the 70-mile-wide line of totality, which starts in Oregon and ends in South Carolina, will get to witness up to 2 minutes, 40 seconds of darkness.
In this series, we’ll spotlight a few of the best viewing locations along the path, including Idaho Falls, ID, Casper, WY, Nashville, TN and Greenville, SC. Whether you travel to your preferred city the weekend before or turn the trip into a weeklong summer vacation, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in each locale.
Viewing Location Spotlight: Greenville, SC
One of the best viewing areas along the path is in Greenville, SC. Fly into Charlotte, NC, where you can pick up a vehicle from Advantage Rent A Car and set out for an unforgettable family adventure in the Palmetto State.
Two hours southwest of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Greenville will be one of the last cities to see the full eclipse — with 2 minutes of totality — before the path moves out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Eclipse viewing events are planned for the Greenville Drive minor league baseball game, Furman University, Bob Jones University, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, NoMa Square, Up on the Roof, and Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery.
In addition, as an official NASA viewing site, the Roper Mountain Science Center is hosting a weekend-long Eclipse Extravaganza, which includes full-dome eclipse shows in the planetarium, hands-on activities for all ages, NASA ambassadors and educators, and more.
If you’ll be in town for a few days, head less than an hour northwest to Caesars Head State Park and get your bearings from atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment, which looks out into North Carolina and Georgia. Plus, right in the heart of downtown Greenville, enjoy waterfalls, landscaped gardens, a nature trail, pedestrian suspension bridge, scenic overlooks and more at Falls Park on the Reedy.
For even more nature, glide through the treetops on America’s steepest, fastest zipline canopy tour at The Gorge, go whitewater rafting or rappelling with Green River Adventures or visit the Greenville Zoo. About an hour and 15 minutes north of Greenville, you can also hike the 499-step Outcroppings trail to Chimney Rock in North Carolina, where you can see 75-mile views of the Carolina Piedmont, Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge.
If that’s not enough activity to get your blood pumping, put the pedal to the metal at the BMW Performance Center.
Prefer a more relaxing afternoon? Take the kids to one of Greenville’s many waterparks, such as Discovery Island, 7th Inning Splash or Otter Creek. If you’d rather stay dry, take a ride on one of the city’s downtown trolleys, then take a stroll on Main Street and let the kids try to find all nine Mice on Main bronze statues.
Whether you’re in Greenville for a day or a week, the Palmetto State will surely become a new favorite family vacation destination!
Solar Eclipse Fun Facts
- A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth are in exact alignment.
- The year the last total solar eclipse was visible in the United States was 1979 — in just five states. The total solar eclipse of 2017 will pass through 12 states from coast to coast.
- The sun and moon appear to be the same size during a total solar eclipse, but this is an illusion. The sun is 400 times wider than the moon and 400 times farther away, so they only coincidentally appear the same size
- The faint light that appears around the moon during a total solar eclipse is part of the sun’s outermost atmosphere, called the corona.
- Wildlife can be confused by totality. As the sky grows dark and resembles twilight, you may hear roosters crowing and grasshoppers chirping.
Written by: Angie Lewis