Rare solar eclipse to be visible in Hopkinsville

Story by Bella Utley, Contributing writer

On Aug 21, 2017,  the first solar eclipse visible in America since 1991 will be visible from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, that will last for 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

The last total solar eclipse that was visible from the United States could only be seen from Hawaii.

“This is the most exciting 2 minutes and 40 seconds in astronomy,” according to the Kentucky Solar Eclipse website.

Hopkinsville officials are already preparing for additional lodging and restaurants in the upcoming months to accommodate an increase in tourism.

The exact location is situated on the Orchard Dale historical farm, just northwest of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in the Bainbridge/Sinking Fork area of Christian County,” according to the site.

There are several viewing tips and viewing locations available for the public on the website.

Brooke Jung, Solar Eclipse Marketing & Event Consultant, said all of the campsites in Debow Park, Ruff Park, Pardue Lane and Trail of Tears park as well as other areas with unobstructed views will be hot spots.

“This is going to be a wonderful event not only for Christian County and Hopkinsville, but for the entire region,” Jung said. “The number of individuals that are planning to flock to our region to view this eclipse is incredible and we have an opportunity to showcase our southern hospitality and invite them to come back in the future.”

She said the event will put western Kentucky in the national spotlight and will have the opportunity to show individuals how beautiful the region is.

“We are estimating millions of dollars in economic impact from guests that are either staying or viewing the eclipse in our area,” Jung said.

She said between 25,000 and 50,000 guests are estimated in Hopkinsville and Christian County for the eclipse.  There are events being planned daily, as well as the Summer Salute Festival which will feature live music and nationally known acts. This festival has been extended to accommodate the solar eclipse.

Joshua Ridley, Astronomy Professor, said this solar eclipse is “awesome” because it doesn’t happen every year, and rarely is visible from the United States.

“The sky will be completely black, and it will be like nighttime in the middle of the day,” Ridley said.

He said that there will be a viewing spot in Land Between the Lakes. Hopkinsville is  where it will be darkest for the longest and  Murray will have a partial solar eclipse, with about 90 percent of the sun covered.

Ridley said there are solar glasses to wear before, during and after the eclipse.

“During the eclipse it doesn’t matter if you wear the glasses, but right before and right after, you need to wear the glasses so you don’t get instantly blinded,” Ridley said. “Or as the moon is moving away, and you are looking right there you will get hurt.”

These glasses are available online as well as nearby stores closer to the expected date for less than five dollars.

Ridley encourages anyone who is interested to go ahead and drive 15 minutes to see the 100 percent solar eclipse, as this is a rare occurrence .

“I am super excited, “ Jung said. “It is truly going to be an out-of-this-world experience!”