For the first time in 26 years, on August 21, 2017, the sky will transform as a full solar eclipse takes hold. Visible in 14 states from South Carolina to Oregon, it will be the first eclipse since 1918 to travel from coast to coast. It is also the first eclipse visible to only the United States since prior to 1776, making the official name, National Eclipse, incredibly fitting. If you need a refresher on solar and lunar activities, a total solar eclipse involves the moon completely covering the sun. In the path of totality you can witness the amazing spectacle from start to finish. For the National Eclipse one of the leading websites dedicated to the event notes, “Most people who have seen a total eclipse have described it as the most spectacular natural event they have ever witnessed. It starts as the moon slowly obscures more and more of the sun.” It’s not just the viewers who are left in awe, but the eclipse has an affect on all things natural, “You might notice a temperature drop, birds flying home to their nests, and an eerie stillness in the air. You’re standing in a strange twilight, while a sunset glows on the horizon all around you. Finally, totality comes to an end as the events occur in reverse order. “The National Eclipse is predicted to be one of the most viewed solar events in history. With so much anticipation leading up, planning is a must to find the best place to witness it. On the National Eclipse blog is a list of “Ten Unique Places to View the National Eclipse.” North Carolinians are in luck, as Clingmans Dome was listed as one of the best places for seeing the eclipse. At 6,643 feet of elevation, you can’t get much closer to the sun. Located in Swain County, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains and third highest in the eastern U.S. According to the blog, “As far as eclipses go, being up high has its advantages. You might be able to see the shadow of the moon racing toward you across the landscape at faster than the speed of sound. And, especially here in the Great Smoky Mountains, it gets you up above any trees that might block your view of the sky.” At the summit of Clingmans Dome, a 45-foot high observation tower offers 360 degree Smoky Mountain views along with a 28-foot diameter platform. From there, the eclipse is predicted to begin at 1:06 p.m. with almost a minute and a half of totality starting at 2:35 p.m.While Clingmans Dome proves a somewhat otherworldly sight in itself, weather permitting it will provide one of the best views of this rare occurrence. Just don’t forget your eclipse glasses!
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