Fact Sheet

FACT SHEET: Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.

Celebrate with 120+ events all weekend in the Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast

August 18-21, 2017 

One of the Southeast’s most vibrant mid-sized cities, Columbia, S.C., is home to the longest total solar eclipse for a metro area on the East Coast and will host Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., a long weekend of more than 120 eclipse-related festivals and events, from Aug. 18 to 21, 2017. Follow @TotalEclipseCAE and plan your Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.

Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. | Friday, August 18–Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse | Monday, August 21, 2017, 2:41 p.m.

Details | www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com

What Will Happen During “Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.?”

During the highly anticipated total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 at 2:41 p.m., visitors and residents in the greater Columbia, South Carolina area will experience the longest 100% total eclipse on the East Coast for a metro area, ranging from 2 minutes and 30 seconds up to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in the middle of the afternoon.

As a result, Columbia, S.C., has been identified by astronomy experts as one of the top places in the country for the rare and highly desirable experience of viewing the first transcontinental total solar eclipse in 99 years.

Visitors in Columbia, S.C., the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast,” will enjoy a long weekend of more than 120 eclipse-related activities, Aug. 18-21, 2017.

Why is Columbia, S.C., a Top Destination for Viewing?

  • The New York Times, the UK’s Telegraph, USA Today, Fodor’s Travel, Today.com, Forbes, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, Buzzfeed, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Orbitz, Expedia and more have named Columbia, S.C., as one of the best places to watch the eclipse because of its lengthy duration of “totality.”
  • Columbia, S.C., has the longest totality on the East Coast for a metro area, at 2 minutes and 36 seconds. (The longest in the country is 2 min. 41 sec. in the central U.S.)
  • Travelers from Europe have already booked their trips to the area to witness the eclipse.
  • Columbia, S.C., is the third largest city in the U.S. to be on the center line of totality.
  • Columbia, S.C., is the largest city in South Carolina with the longest period of totality.
    • Columbia: range is from 2 min. 30 sec. to 2 min. 36 sec., depending on your location within the metro area | Charleston: 1 min. 30 sec. | Greenville: 2 min. 10 sec.
  • NASA estimates that the entire state of S.C. could see 1 million visitors if the weather is clear
  • C. is 1 of only 10 states through which the center line of totality passes.
    • Being on the center line is the most important for viewing the longest totality.

Why is This Total Solar Eclipse So Important?

  • First transcontinental total solar eclipse in 99 years; the last one to cross the U.S. coast to coast was in 1918. (The 1918 total solar eclipse was not visible from Columbia, South Carolina.)
  • First total solar eclipse in the continental US since 1979, visible from only five states in the Northwest United States (38 years ago). There was a total eclipse over Hawaii in 1991 and the last total solar eclipse over South Carolina was visible only from the coastal region in 1970.
  • Projected to be the most viewed total eclipse in history
    • Access for millions of people via technology, social media, highway accessibility, etc.
    • An unforgettable experience for which people travel globally
  • The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the greater Columbia, S.C., area is 2078.
  • The path of totality is only 70 miles wide, and the speed of the moon’s shadow will range from 1500 mph to 1700 mph as it crosses the nation.
  • 30 counties in South Carolina are within the path of totality.

“Close” is Not Close Enough

“For those who choose to experience this eclipse outside the path, a partial eclipse is all they will see. Even if the sun is 99.9% eclipsed for these observers, they will not experience the full, jaw-dropping, knee-buckling, emotionally-overloading, completely overwhelming spectacle that is totality.” – Dan McGlaun, veteran of twelve total solar eclipses

What Makes a Total Solar Eclipse So Special?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and earth line up so perfectly that the moon blocks the sun, creating rare and spectacular effects across the sky and throughout the natural environment, including darkness in the middle of the day.

The difference between a partial solar eclipse and a total solar eclipse is monumental:

  • A partial solar eclipse will be visible to the entire continental U.S., but it is very different from witnessing a total solar eclipse, visible only from places within the path of totality.
  • During a total solar eclipse, strange phenomena occur:
    • Sudden “twilight” darkness in the middle of the day
    • A corona of light circles the sun – this is never visible except during 100% totality
    • Temperature drops 5-15 degrees
    • “Diamond ring” and other light effects appear around the sun
    • 360-degree sunset around the entire horizon; this deepens before darkness
    • Nocturnal animals emerge and begin “nighttime” routines
    • Stars and bright planets such as Mars, Venus, Mercury & Jupiter become visible
    • After eclipse, as light breaks, birds chirp as if it is daybreak
    • Note: during a partial eclipse, the sky does not darken like it does during 100% totality.

120+ Eclipse-Related Events All Weekend

More than 120 events will be hosted by Columbia, S.C., tourism attractions, along with entertainment venues, cultural and educational institutions, retail and hospitality businesses and more are celebrating and commemorating the eclipse through special events, activities and offerings for the entire long weekend leading up to and during the eclipse. More events are added weekly on the official website: http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.

Selected events include the following:

  • Festivals & Entertainment
    • “Soda City Eclipse Viewing Party” and Eclipse Eve Drive-In Movie Night at Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce, S.C., just across the Congaree River from Columbia, S.C.
    • Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball games all weekend and “Total Eclipse of the Park” game and viewing event during eclipse with iMAGINE STEM Festival
    • Solar 17 at Lake Murray viewing festival with tents, free water and free eclipse glasses at Lake Murray dam & lakefront park sites, 25 minutes from downtown Columbia, S.C.
    • The Lexington County Blowfish baseball team is dedicating their entire 2017 season to the eclipse and will open the Lexington County Baseball Stadium for a free viewing event
    • ECLIPSEFEST 2017 at Music Farm Columbia w/rock ‘n roll tribute bands
    • Eclipse tailgate party, plus parking and RV parking, at the S.C. State Fairgrounds
    • Historic Eclipse in the Gardens viewing event with family-friendly band in the spacious gardens of the Robert Mills House (sold out)
    • Solar Fest West at the West Columbia riverfront amphitheater with live entertainment
    • Newberry EclipseFest
    • Yonder Field Solar Eclipse Festival
  • Science & Education
    • The S.C. State Museum (home of the Boeing Observatory) will host ticketed events and educational programming all weekend, with a NASA exhibition and eclipse day viewing event with a personal appearance by S.C. NASA astronaut Charles Duke (one of 12 men to walk on the moon). Note: The museum’s eclipse day event on Aug. 21 is sold out, but tickets are still available for Fri.-Sun.
    • Astronomy workshops, exhibitions & lectures at University of South Carolina department of Physics and Astronomy and at USC’s Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections’ Robert B. Ariail collection of historical astronomy
    • Eclipse Geocaching Cointrail event at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
    • Solar Learning Challenge party for families on Aug. 19 at Richland Library
    • Riverbanks Zoo will be open for regular ticketed admission all weekend and on eclipse day
    • Historic Columbia walking tours of Main St. & the Vista, happy hour water balloon fight
    • Summer Learning Challenge hosted by Richland Library
  • Outdoors
    • Paddling on the lower Saluda River at Saluda Shoals Park’s Total Eclipse on the River event (sold out)
    • “Shadows and Science in the Wilderness” programs & ranger-led hikes to prime viewing locations at Congaree National Park, 20 minutes from downtown Columbia, S.C. (ranger-led hikes are sold out)
    • Guided outdoor historical walking tours along the paved, riverside forest trails at the 12,000 Year History Park in Cayce, S.C., 10 minutes from downtown Columbia, S.C.
    • Total eclipse viewing event at Sesquicentennial State Park in Northeast Columbia, S.C.
    • Saluda Shoals Park’s family-friendly Eclipse Extravaganza with games & hands-on activities
    • Tent camping and eclipse viewing at Siesta Cove Marina & RV Park on Lake Murray (sold out)
    • Picnic and eclipse viewing in the wide-open fields of Camp Discovery
  • Food & Drink
    • Lowcountry Boil & Paella Party with live music at City Roots urban sustainable farm (sold out)
    • VIP Eclipse Viewing Party with open bar & luxe buffet at Motor Supply Co. Bistro in the Vista (sold out)
    • “The Grape Eclipse” 4-day wine, food and jazz party at Mercer Winery in Lexington, S.C.
    • Two Gals and a Fork Food Tours & Columbia Food Tours events
    • Taco Monday eclipse viewing specials at Publico Kitchen & Tap in Five Points
    • Cooking class and rooftop eclipse viewing with Let’s Cook Studio
    • Barrel-aged beer release at Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington
    • Enoree River Winery’s crowd and RV friendly viewing event with live music (sold out)
  • Arts
    • A large-scale public art/laser light installation at the Congaree River, “Southern Lights”
    • “Star Wars Musiclipse” space-themed concert by S.C. Philharmonic (sold out)
    • The Jasper Project’s “Syzygy” eclipse-themed plays and poetry events w/two Poet Laureates
    • Nickelodeon Theatre screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey
    • The popular Arts & Draughts party & eclipse art workshops at the Columbia Museum of Art
    • ECLIPSploitation event at Tapp’s Arts Center
    • Film, music, art & dance events across the region
    • “Art in the Dark” family-friendly celebration from Bravo Blythewood
    • Learn how to photograph the eclipse with the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce
    • And more!


Eclipse Glasses and Viewing Safety

Anyone planning to witness the total solar eclipse needs certified protective glasses with a special safety film to look at the sun and view the partial eclipse leading up to and following the total eclipse.

However, viewers in the Columbia, S.C., area will want to remove their glasses when the sky goes dark during the two and a half minutes of total eclipse in order to witness totality.

“Wear your eclipse glasses for the entire partial phases of the eclipse. During totality, take your eclipse glasses off. As totality begins, it will get dark very quickly and you’ll no longer be able to see the Sun through your eclipse glasses. This is your signal that it is completely safe to remove them and look directly at the eclipsed Sun. At the end of totality, a bright spot – called the Diamond Ring – will appear on the right side of the Sun. When this bright spot appears, put your eclipse glasses back on.” – Matthew Whitehouse, observatory manager at the South Carolina State Museum and witness to a past total solar eclipse

Notably, the partial eclipse before and after totality is not visible without eclipse glasses, since the sun is still so bright even up to the final moments of the moon covering the sun, so one must wear them not only for safety during the partial eclipse but also to see the partial eclipse at all.

Remember: remove your eclipse glasses when the sky goes dark during totality, and put them back on to look straight at the sun when daylight returns!

The City of Columbia, S.C. has sponsored 100,000 pairs of free eclipse glasses.

For those wishing to construct their own solar projection viewing devices, visit NASA: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-viewing

Viewers should consider the same sun safety measures one would employ when spending time outdoors in the summer, such as hats, sunscreen, insect repellent and hydrating beverages.

View the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) total eclipse safety page: http://www.scemd.org/totaleclipse

Keep on top of statewide traffic via 511: http://www.511sc.org

Eclipse Timeline on August 21, 2017 in Greater Columbia, S.C., Area

  • 1:13 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) | Partial eclipse begins.
    • The process of the sky darkening is so gradual that it is not discernible. However, when the moon totally covers the sun at totality, darkness falls very rapidly.
  • 2:41-2:44 p.m. EDT | Total solar eclipse (100% “totality”) is reached. (Remove eclipse glasses when darkness falls, and put them back on when daylight returns.)
    • From 2 minutes and 30 seconds to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in greater Columbia, S.C., area
    • At the S.C. State House at Gervais and Assembly, totality will begin at 2:41:51 p.m. and end at 2:44:21 p.m.
  • Want to calculate the exact start time for totality for your location? Use this helpful website recommended by the South Carolina State Museum astronomy team: https://eclipsecountdown.com/
  • After the total eclipse, viewers see another partial eclipse in the opposite direction
  • 4:06 p.m. EDT | Sun is no longer obscured by the moon; partial eclipse and entire eclipse overall is over in the Columbia, S.C. area.
  • The transcontinental path of the total solar eclipse will start in Oregon, at approximately 1:00 p.m. EDT (10:00 a.m. PDT), and will travel on average between 1,500 and 1,700 miles per hour, exiting the U.S. via South Carolina just after 4:00 p.m. EDT (1:00 p.m. PDT).

Who is Leading This Effort?

The steering committee for Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. includes Experience Columbia, SC; the City of Columbia, S.C.; Capital City Lake Murray Country; the South Carolina State Museum (S.C.’s Solar Eclipse Headquarters for education and training); the Columbia Fireflies Minor League Baseball team; and One Columbia for Arts & History.

Major sponsorship is provided by the City of Columbia, S.C., with support from the City of Cayce, S.C. and Richland County, S.C. Sponsorship opportunities are available for branded presence in this campaign via the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. website: http://totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com/

“It’s all about totality…Only totality reveals the true celestial spectacle: the diamond ring, the Sun’s glorious corona, strange colors in our sky, and seeing stars in the daytime.”

 – Michael Bakich, senior editor, Astronomy Magazine 

About Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.

One of the Southeast’s most vibrant mid-sized cities, Columbia, S.C., is home to the longest total solar eclipse for a metro area on the East Coast and will host Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., a long weekend of more than 120 eclipse-related festivals and events, from Aug. 18 to 21, 2017. At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers in the greater Columbia, S.C., area will experience up to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in the middle of the afternoon. NASA estimates that South Carolina could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors to witness the U.S.’ first transcontinental total solar eclipse in 99 years. The Columbia, S.C., region’s long weekend of 120+ eclipse events includes a variety of large and small festivals; kid-friendly/family activities; food & drink parties; outdoor river and lake adventures; education, science & history events; art, film & music happenings and more. Dubbed the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast,” Columbia, S.C., has been named a top U.S. viewing city, with coverage by the New York Times, USA Today, Buzzfeed, Newsweek, Fodor’s Travel, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, the UK’s Telegraph, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and others. Follow @TotalEclipseCAE and plan your Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com

About the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. Campaign

Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. is a regional tourism campaign that was founded to create economic impact in the Midlands by inspiring local groups to host eclipse events and amplifying their efforts with a national public relations and marketing campaign, raising awareness of the Columbia, S.C. area as a vibrant, authentic destination filled with cool things to do all year round.

 Facebook: www.facebook.com/totaleclipsecae  | Twitter and Instagram: @TotalEclipseCAE

Hashtags: #TotalEclipseCAE | #RealColumbiaSC

Media Contact: Tracie Broom, Flock and Rally, 415.235.5718, tracie@flockandrally.com