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A trip to South Carolina to see the Total Eclipse

 

There was a total eclipse of the Sun on August 21, 2017. I took a 2,000 mile drive to see it. It was 1,000 miles each way for me.


 

 

 

Being an amateur astronomer I really wanted to see the eclipse. I have never seen totality before. And this was an opportunity that was within reach.
But I did have some questions about the whole process of traveling to see it.

First off I would have to drive 1,000 miles from Massachusetts to South Carolina as a minimum. And that's if I decided to go to South Carolina.

On the map below you can see that I had a lot of options in terms of what state to travel to. But SC was the closest for me, and the best option in terms of short travel. The northern most "X" is where I live. And the southern "X" is South Carolina.

(Map credit: NASA)

The thing that made it a bit risky is that there was no way to know what the weather would be like during the two minutes of the eclipse. Anywhere along it's path on the continent.

I checked the US weather bureau and they had some great predictions based on the last ten years of weather data. And for them the best bet would be Casper Wyoming. That area has a whole lot of sunshine and very little rain.

This is what I did.

I drove all the way down to North Carolina, arriving a few days early. And as the weather reports and predictions for the day of the eclipse started to solidify I could make a plan for where to drive to.

The Night before the eclipse I drove to a small city outside of Columbia SC and got a hotel room. It was just outside the eclipse zone. And this was because it was very difficult to get a hotel room inside the eclipse zone! (White X on the map)

With this location I was two hours from just about anywhere in all of South Carolina along the eclipse path. The next day, day of the eclipse, I could watch the weather reports then leave very early and get to a place that would be clear.

And that's what I did.

The very early morning of the eclipse I watched all the local morning and news shows. It was looking like Charleston would be cloudy and rainy! So I wasn't going that way.

My best bet for a clear day would be up north around a place called Greenville! (The red X on the map) Which was not too far from Tennessee. So, that's what I did.

Map Credit: NASA

On the morning of the eclipse I went to Greenville South Carolina. And while listening to the local radio stations I learned that a race track just outside of Greenville was having an eclipse event! Yay.

I went there, paid a ten dollar entrance fee and joined hundreds of other people in experiencing the eclipse. And it was perfect. There were some clouds in the morning but come eclipse time the sky was clear and I saw full totality!

It would have been nice to go to Charleston because that is a remarkable city and there is a lot to see and do there. But it was rained out!

( "Total eclipse photo courtesy Dr. Nguyen Nguyen of How2Nguyen.� )

I met Dr. Nguyen at the racetrack in Greenville. He was kind enough to let me use this eclipse pic that he took. It's a great pic.

All my planning and forethought paid off. I got to see the eclipse in totality. I am so glad the 2,000 miles of driving did not go to waste :)

The video I made about the trip:



 

And the day before the eclipse I stopped at a Krispy Kreme and got myself an eclipse donut! They let me take a picture!