Danielson beadsTSE20021204WESTERN KENTUCKY (8/15/17) — While the Commonwealth might be famous for its “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” it is the sun that’s attracting global attention as the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse looms closer. Many western Kentucky communities are gearing up with celebrations, festivals and viewing events as well as preparing for an onslaught of tourists to the area.

The eclipse’s path of totality will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina making several western Kentucky cities prime viewing areas.

At 1:20 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, portions of western Kentucky will experience a total solar eclipse lasting up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds — with Hopkinsville set to enjoy the planet’s “point of greatest eclipse.” State officials are preparing for an influx of as many as a half-million visitors.

Madisonville, Dawson Springs and Greenville are planning events as the eclipse crosses the western part of Kentucky. Locations in Kentucky away from the 70-mile wide centerline will experience a partial eclipse of less than 100 percent totality.

For the exact time of the start of the eclipse in western Kentucky cities, click HERE. For more information on the eclipse phenomenon, click HERE.

HOPKINSVILLE/CHRISTIAN COUNTY

Hopkinsville will truly be the Mecca of the 2017 Solar Eclipse and has donned the moniker of “Eclipseville” for the event with as many as 500,000 visitors expected to pour into the region. The eclipse totality will begin at 1:24:42 p.m. and last 2:40 minutes.

NASA Astronaut Steve Bowen will speak at Hopkinsville Community College shortly before the start of the eclipse at 11:56 a.m. Aug. 21. At 12:30 p.m., the HCC Balloon Satellite Team will launch its near-space, high-altitude balloon satellite providing real-time, live video feed to NASA.

Viewing spaces at HCC are sold out, however, college staff and students will be posting to social media throughout the event.

The Director of Vatican Observatory will be in town for the eclipse with a presentation on "Faith and Science".

There will be a Monumental Solar Eclipse Festival Aug. 18 through 21 at 258 Pembroke Road, Fairview. Vendors, arts and crafts booths, kids games, workshops, live music and a kids’ poster contest are included in events.

There will be free souvenir eclipse pictures for the first 500 people at the Visitors Center at 1730 E. 9th East., Hopkinsville from Aug. 18 – 19.

The Kelly Little Green Men Days Festival will begin at 8 a.m. Aug. 18 and continue through 5 p.m. Aug. 21. The annual festival commemorates the alleged landing of the “little green men” on Aug. 21, 1955 in Kelly.

There are events that require ticket purchases including the Pennyroyal Scuba Center and Christian Way Farm. Both are holding special events with ticket purchase.

There will be an interfaith and ecumenical worship time at the labyrinth of Grace Episcopal Church’s Chartres Labyrinth at 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20 at the corner of E. 7th St. and Liberty.

First Presbyterian Church, 303 E. 9th St., Hopkinsville, is planning several events, lectures and entertainment from Aug. 19 – Aug. 21. Some events require ticket purchase.

SolQuest2017 at 14405 Princeton Road, Cerulean, will offer food, vendor booths, live music, 5K run and guest speakers from 8 a.m. Aug. 19 – 5 p.m. Aug. 21. There are elevated viewing areas two miles north from the point of greatest eclipse.

The Eclipse Con 2017 will be Aug. 19-20 at the James E. Bruce Convention Center, 303 Conference Center Drive, Hopkinsville. There will be celebrities, vendors, comics, anime, cosplay, sci-fi and superheroes.

The SonFest by Heritage Christian Academy, 8349 Eagle Way Bypass, Hopkinsville, will be 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Aug. 19.

The Brushy Fork Creek Eclipse Festival will be 10 a.m. Aug. 19 – 5 p.m. Aug. 20.

For a more complete list of Christian County eclipse events, go HERE

eclipse

HOPKINS COUNTY

The eclipse totality will begin in Madisonville at 1:24:32 p.m. and last 1:47 minutes. For Dawson Springs, it will begin at 1:23:58 p.m. and last 2:32 minutes.

The city of Madisonville is planning a Solar Madness Weekend for Aug. 18 through 21. From 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, there will a free concert downtown along with vendors, food and a beer garden. From 5 to 9 p.m., there will be a MadCity Street Market on Sugg Street.

From Aug. 18 through 21, Dawson Springs will host a festival type event downtown and at Riverside Park. Activities include live bands, gospel music, vendors, souvenirs, water sprayers and educational sessions. For more information, call 270-797-2781.

Madisonville’s “Total Eclipse of the Park” will be from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Aug. 19 at the skate park on Sugg Street. Professional skaters from Santa Cruz, California will showcase their talents. There will be skate competitions for local participants. Call 270-977-2052 for more information.

Also on Aug. 19, a “Solarpalooza” will be 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Madisonville City Park with bounce houses, slides, obstacle courses, human foosball tournament, outdoor laser tag, golf scramble and home run derby. For more information, call 270-824-2100.

There will be Celestial Dynamics and Eclipse Chasing from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 19 at Madisonville Community College at 2000 College Drive, Madisonville. A free seminar for the community will be presented. Call 270-821-2250.

There will be a free concert featuring Jennifer Nettles will be from 6:30 – 10 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Hopkins County Fairgrounds at 605 E. Arch St., Madisonville.

On Sunday, Aug. 20, there will be a MAD Mix of Music Fest at Mahr Park at Hidden Hills Farm, 642 Nebo Road, Madisonville. The free concert will be from 1 – 8 p.m., and feature local church bands to blues with Boscoe France. For more information, call 270-977-2052.

Also on Sunday, the “Planetarium Seminar: The Night Skies Around Us” will be from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts.

At 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, NASA Consultant Billy Hix will guide sky watchers through the total solar eclipse. Parking lots open at 8 a.m., and the eclipse viewing begins at 11:56 a.m. Eclipse glass are required to safely view the eclipse and a limited number will be distributed during the event. Those attending area encouraged to bring chairs and sunscreen.

Eclipse Viewing at the Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library will be from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Popsicles and bottled water will be available.

Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office, Hopkins County Emergency Management Agency and Madisonville Police Department have been preparing for extra traffic and tourists in the area for the eclipse weekend. Read more about it HERE.

MUHLENBERG COUNTY

The eclipse totality will start in Greenville at 1:25:23 p.m. and last for 1:43 minutes and will start at 1:25:49 p.m. lasting 44 seconds in Central City.

Starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, there will be a Star Wars Meet and Greet, concessions, inflatable activities, an Eclipse Packet Give-a-Way, a Star Wars Book Give-a-Way and other activities at Lu-Ray Park at Broad and Locusts streets, Central City. At 8:15 p.m., there will be an Eclipse Activity Overview and video presentation, and at 8:30 p.m., there will be a free showing of “Star Wars: Rogue One”.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, there will be “Fly Me to the Moon” tethered hot air balloon rides at Muhlenberg County Park at 200 County Park Drive, Greenville. Rides are $5 each.

On Monday, Aug. 21, there will be an “Eclipse Extravaganza” at the Summer House at 100 Martin Street in Greenville.The first 500 guests will receive complimentary "Eclipse Survival Kits" complete with a Moon Pie, a Sundrop soft drink, commemorative mini-frisbee, eclipse viewing glasses and sunscreen.

Luke’s Town and Country Flea Market at 2006 U.S. 62 West, Greenville will also be open for eclipse day.

PADUCAH

Tse 2015 Svalbard 800mm Nikon D810 printThe eclipse totality will begin in Paducah at 1:22:17 p.m. and last for 2:21 mintues.

West Kentucky Community and Technical College will host a “Night at Noon” eclipse event from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the Night at Noon eclipse party is an official NASA viewing site and includes fun activities, music, science demonstrations and food with local vendors. Visitors can see the NASA high altitude balloon launch and meet Kentucky's only astronaut, Terry Wilcutt, who will speak at the event and emcee the eclipse. Night at Noon t-shirts and posters will be on sale to commemorate the big day. Cash only accepted. An XBox One will also be given away following the eclipse. Registration for the gaming system and for all Night at Noon details, visit nightatnoon.org.


Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets to sit on during the eclipse and sunscreen. Night at Noon is on the main campus at 4810 Alben Barkley Drive between Haws Gymnasium and the Challenger Learning Center. Free parking spaces are available. A shuttle will be available from 9 a.m - 3 p.m. to assist with travel on campus as needed.


Prohibited items at Night at Noon: alcohol, illegal substances, tobacco products, weapons, non-service animals, remote control aircraft or drones, fireworks, laser devices, and glass bottles.


For questions about the Night at Noon eclipse party, contact Mellisa Duncan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 270-534-3101.

BOWLING GREEN

Eclipse totality will begin at 1:27:21 p.m. and last for 1:13 minutes.

Western Kentucky University's Hardin Planetarium is still showing “Into the Shadow of the Disappearing Sun” with shows at 5:30 and 7 p.m. Aug. 19 and four presentations Aug. 20 at 1, 2, 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.

“The staff at Hardin Planetarium created an immersive show that lasts just over 30 minutes, with a question period afterward that has been lasting another 20 minutes or more.” Dr. Richard Gelderman continued. “Audience participation is always a focus of our shows and the desire to make the most out of this incredibly rare opportunity has led to wonderful exchanges about how to safely enjoy the eclipse.”

STATEWIDE

University of Kentucky, HCC and Bluegrass Community and Technical College are partnering with NASA to launch high-altitude scientific balloons from western Kentucky.

The balloons, which expand to the size of a firetruck and carry payloads to near-space altitude of 100,000 feet, are being launched as part of the NASA Space Grant National Eclipse Ballooning Project along the entire path of the eclipse.

Teams of college students from UK, HCC and BCTC will each launch a package of payloads designed to gather scientific and engineering data and broadcast live high-altitude video of the eclipse to a website hosted by NASA.

Kentucky teams will be joined by college students from schools in five other states traveling to western Kentucky to take advantage of its location as a prime spot to experience eclipse totality, where the moon will completely obscure the sun for as much as two minutes and 40.

If launches go as planned for the college teams, video from the balloons can be viewed online at
http://eclipse.stream.live during the eclipse.

“We are excited to see what the eclipse looks like over Kentucky,” said Matthew Graham, a UK Medical Laboratory Science major from Midway “This project has given us a great opportunity to put
our education into action.”

The national ballooning project will broadcast live aerial video of the eclipse from Oregon to South
Carolina, with balloon launches planned in every state along its path.

SAFETY

Speaking of safely viewing the eclipse, the Kentucky Optometric Association is cautioning people planning on watching the eclipse.

Totality, the point at which the moon completely blocks the sun, is the only time during a solar eclipse when it is safe to remove special eclipse glasses or viewers to gaze on the obscured sun. Everyone else must view the partially eclipsed sun through eclipse glasses or viewers that meet ISO 12312-2 international standards, or through devices such as pinhole projectors, according to the KOA.

Unfortunately, a number of unsafe eclipse glasses are being distributed by some companies, according to NASA, which recommends only glasses with ISO 12312-2 printed on them. According to NASA, four U.S. Companies have manufactured the proper glasses — American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousands Oaks Optical and TSE 17.

To read more about viewing the eclipse safely, click HERE. The Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has created a video that alerts deaf and hard of hearing citizens on how to watch the eclipse safely in sign language.

PREPARATION

State Department of Transportation officials have been issuing advice for several months regarding possible traffic delays and congestion during the eclipse weekend.

“While this historic event presents transportation challenges, we welcome the opportunity to showcase Kentucky to visitors,” said Sec. Greg Thomas. “KYTC has dedicated months to prepare for increased traffic along the eclipse corridor in Kentucky, and we are ready to deploy our resources to make state roadways as safe as possible.” 

Traffic through Kentucky along Interstates 24, 69 and 65 – as well as along the Natcher Parkway, the Pennyrile Parkway and the U.S. 68/KY 80 corridor in the western half of the state – is expected to be especially congested before, during and after the eclipse. Collaborating with Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Emergency Management and various local agencies, KYTC traffic engineers have prepared to pre-position crews and equipment strategically throughout western Kentucky counties to respond to traffic issues.

For those concerned about an interruption in electricity on the Tennessee Valley Authority power grid, the answer is, “It shouldn’t be a concern,” according to TVA. TVA has been preparing for the event for months.

“We are absolutely ready because we’ve been preparing for this eclipse like a major storm or temperature event that could affect our ability to keep electricity flowing to our consumers,” said Patrick Walshe, TVA Operations and Analysis Manager.

People dependent on solar power, should expect to lose general during the eclipse prompting utilities in places like California to ask customers to turn off utilities during the eclipse.

MORE ABOUT SAFETY

Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton released a video about the upcoming eclipse with information on safety, precautions and best practices for viewing.

Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director
Region 3 Vice President

Photo credits: S. Habbal, M. Druckmuller and P. Aniol; NASA

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