Soon the mainland will experience its first total solar eclipse in 99 years. On Monday the sky will go dark, the air will cool and stars will be visible as a shadow falls across a narrow sliver of land called the Path of Totality. From Oregon to South Carolina, eclipse enthusiasts will be celebrating this celestial wonder. If you have yet to make plans for the big event, here are five ideas to consider:
1. SNAG A SPOT ON THE PATH. As the astro rarity gets underway on the Oregon coast, guests at the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort will be donning the special eclipse glasses included in their package and sharing the moment with fellow enthusiasts. (At this writing there are a few rooms available.) At the other end of the path, visitors and residents of Columbia, S.C., the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast,” will be choosing from more than 120 eclipse-related events planned for the weekend of wonder. From kayak trips with a well-timed stop on a sandbar for peaceful viewing to festivals, music, food and entertainment, surrounding the moment of eclipse, there will be plenty of family fun to enjoy. In between, Airbnb hosts are offering up tents, yurts, geodesic domes, cabins and bunk beds to enable sky-watchers to join in the fun. Contact: Salishan.com; totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com, Airbnb.com.
2. CAMP. You’ll be competing for sites that can’t be reserved in advance, so gather your gear and prepare to exercise patience and flexibility. Throwing up your tent on public land, meaning national forests that do not have designated campgrounds, is an option. Hipcamp, a startup designed to make it easier to discover and book campsites online, has been partnering with landowners in the eclipse path to expand the options. Contact: Hipcamp.com.
3. MIGRATE TO A ZOO OR ANIMAL PARK. Do animals change their behavior during a solar eclipse? If certain critters grunt, bellow or go silent during a thunderstorm, how will they react to this rare event? Zoos, animal parks and aquariums across the country are eager to collect information, and you can help. In Nashville, Tenn., zoo guests will be asked to look, listen and record animal activity before, during and after the event. Photos, video and written observation will add to the body of research. Contact: NashvilleZoo.org, nationalzoo.si.edu/events/solar-eclipse-viewing.
4. DINE AND DELIGHT. The shadow won’t last long, so why not find a seat along the path that promises more than one way to savor the celestial event? The dining reservations pros at Open Table have provided a menu of restaurants that offer outdoor or rooftop seating in eclipse country. Others, like the Middleton Place Restaurant, outside Charleston, S.C., will host a professional astronomer on their sprawling grounds as well as craft stations for the kids to enjoy. Contact: OpenTable.com.
5. PLAN YOUR OWN PARTY. Invite your friends and family and then rely on the experts at NASA to put on a show. NASA EDGE will join forces with the NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium, the University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale, and Lunt Solar Systems to air a four-hour-30-minute live webcast. Leading subject matter experts will provide commentary as the eclipse gets underway in Oregon and makes its way across the country, ending in South Carolina. Follow the hashtag #Eclipse2017 on social media for other updates. Contact: eclipse2017.nasa.gov/planning-your-eclipse-party.
Note: Make sure your family is in the loop on this one. The next total solar eclipse to cross the United States will not occur until 2045.