Fact Sheet

Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.

Celebrate all weekend in the Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast, August 18-21, 2017

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, with 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 eclipse-related activities, Aug. 18-21, 2017. Details can be found at www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com. Follow on social media at @TotalEclipseCAE.

“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


The greater Columbia, South Carolina area, “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast


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

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

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

  • USA Today, Travel + Leisure, Forbes, Washington Post 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.
  • Projected to be the most viewed total eclipse in history
    • Access for millions of people via technology, social media, highway accessibility, etc.
  • The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the greater Columbia, S.C., area is 2078.

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 and the elusive “corona” effect around the sun, visible only during a 100% total solar eclipse.

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

  • Few people will experience a total solar eclipse in their lifetime
  • A partial solar eclipse will be visible to the entire continental U.S., but this is very different from witnessing a total solar eclipse, an unforgettable experience for which people travel globally
  • 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.

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 barely discernible. However, when the moon totally covers the sun, darkness falls very rapidly.
  • 2:41-2:44 p.m. EDT | Total solar eclipse (100% “totality”) is reached.
    • 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in greater Columbia, S.C., area
    • 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; eclipse is over.
  • 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 at 1,000 miles per hour, exiting the U.S. via South Carolina just after 4:00 p.m. EDT (1:00 p.m. PDT).

Eclipse-Related Events All Weekend

Dozens of 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 campaign website: http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.

Selected events include the following:

  • Festivals & Entertainment
    • “Sunblock” Total 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
    • 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
  • 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).
    • 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
  • Outdoors
    • “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.
    • 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.
    • Tent camping and eclipse viewing at Siesta Cove Marina & RV Park on Lake Murray
    • Weekend and single day eclipse parking and RV parking at the S.C. State Fairgrounds
  • Food & Drink
    • Lowcountry Boil & Paella Party with live music at City Roots urban sustainable farm
    • Super VIP Lunch & Viewing Party with open bar at Motor Supply Co. Bistro in the Vista
    • Special “Carolina Blackout” beer release by Benford Brewery
    • “The Grape Eclipse” wine, food and jazz party at Mercer Winery in Lexington, S.C.
  • Arts
    • A large-scale public art installation at the Congaree River
    • “Star Wars Musiclipse” space-themed concert by S.C. Philharmonic
    • The Jasper Project’s “Syzygy” eclipse-themed plays and poetry events w/two Poet Laureates
    • Film, music, art & dance events across the region 

Eclipse Glasses and Viewing Safety

Anyone planning to witness the total solar eclipse needs certified protective glasses with a special safety film to view the partial eclipse leading up to and following the total eclipse. While the 2 minutes and 36 seconds of total eclipse is viewable without glasses (in fact, one can’t see the moments of total solar eclipse with the glasses on), viewers actually need glasses before and after totality, not just for eye protection but also to be able to see the partial eclipse before and after totality, since the sun is still so bright even up to the final moments of the moon covering the sun.

Organizations and companies may order custom, certified eclipse safety glasses in bulk, and sponsorship opportunities are available for branded presence in this campaign and on official eclipse campaign glasses on the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. website: http://totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com/

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

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.

“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.

At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers in the greater Columbia, S.C., area will experience the longest total solar eclipse on the East Coast, with 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 first total solar eclipse to make a path all the way across the continental U.S. in 99 years. From Aug. 18 to 21, 2017, visitors and residents in the greater Columbia, S.C., region will enjoy long weekend of eclipse-related activities hosted by area attractions, arts and culture organizations, restaurants, hotels, retailers, community groups and more leading up to and during the eclipse. The Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., initiative is spearheaded by a coalition of regional entities whose mission is to create an incredible, weekend-long experience for those witnessing the eclipse in the region. Plan your Total Eclipse Weekend at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com

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

Hashtags: #TotalEclipseCAE | #TSE2017 | #Eclipse2017 | #ColumbiaSC