State

Haven’t given a second thought to Monday’s eclipse? Here are some ways to see it.

Far western parts of North Carolina will be within the path of totality during the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.
Far western parts of North Carolina will be within the path of totality during the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Statisticians say a total solar eclipse happens at any given spot on the Earth about once every 375 days. But on Monday, the awe-inspiring mid-day midnight is ours alone. Dubbed “The Great American Eclipse” because it will cross diagonally over the contiguous United States from Oregon to South Carolina and be visible in other nations only as a partial eclipse, it’s that rare event that has the potential to bring millions of Americans together in a single, shared experience.

It will be a fleeting moment – two minutes and 40 seconds at most – and since the 70-mile-wide path of totality won’t come any closer than about 200 miles from the Triangle, a lot of people decided months ago to let it pass.

But hype, and hope, are powerful, and now the naysayers are having second thoughts. The weather forecast suggests partially clear skies in the path of the total eclipse as it passes through extreme southwestern North Carolina and the middle of South Carolina. Two hundred miles, even if the traffic is terrible, is less than a tank of gas. And if you neglected to buy NASA-approved eclipse-viewing glasses, you can still make a pinhole projector, turn your back and watch the spectacle unfold on a paper printout of the country.

You don't necessarily need fancy equipment to watch one of the sky's most awesome shows: a solar eclipse. With just a few simple supplies, you can make a pinhole camera that allows you to view the event safely and easily.

We’re Americans. If we can’t seize the moment – at the very last moment – who in the world can?

Q: Are there still places to stay in the path of totality in North or South Carolina?

A: Most hotels, inns, Air BnB’s and campgrounds filled up weeks ago, so unless you’re lucky and have a friend with a pull-out couch or find a place that just had a cancellation, you’re unlikely to land overnight accommodations. The exception is if you’re willing to bring your own. If you have a tent and don’t mind sleeping in a stranger’s back yard or empty lot, there are some “campsites” available through hipcamp.com. Prices vary, but can be as little as $20 a night.

Q: When is the best time to go?

A: The total eclipse will begin in southwestern North Carolina at about 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 21, and will will end just outside Charleston, S.C., around 2:45 p.m. To be in place to watch it, planners suggest allowing double the travel time the trip normally would require. That means a run to Sylva, which is having an eclipse party to celebrate its 1 minute 47 seconds of darkness, could take nearly 9 hours of driving, one way. Sumter, S.C., also hosting a watch party, would be a mere six-hour haul, one way.

Everyone is excited about the Solar Eclipse that is happening on Aug. 21, so here are some answers to those questions that you want to ask, but are too embarrassed to.

Q: Where is the best place to go?

A: Anywhere in the path of totality. Outside the path of totality, it will be difficult to discern anything happening at all, even in areas where the eclipse is 90 percent or more, because the brightness of the sun that is left exposed blots out the effect. Amy Sayle, an educator at the Morehead Planetarium at UNC, says, “It’s the difference between riding in the airplane and jumping out of it.”

Dozens of N.C. and S.C. cities and towns are within the path. Columbia and Charleston both have large numbers of events planned, but they also expect large numbers of people. Many of their events require tickets, which are sold out. A better bet is a rural community accessible by a back road because Interstate 40 in North Carolina and I-95 between here and South Carolina will be jammed.

In some communities, churches and schools are serving as gathering places and will allow parking, some for a fee.

In North Carolina, officials warn that such places as Dupont State Recreational Forest have very limited parking, and that parking on the sides of roads is unsafe and in many places illegal.

Q: How should I prepare?

A: Leave with a full tank of gas and don’t let the tank get too low; the last thing you want is to run out in the middle of a traffic jam. Drivers are urged to arrive early, stay put to allow traffic to start moving, and leave late. To make that possible, stock the car with plenty of drinks and snacks.

Carry some cash to pay for parking if there is a fee. Take a paper copy of the state road map, available at rest areas and welcome centers, or download one. This will help you reroute if the highway and the interstate are clogged at the same time.

Pack chairs or blankets, bug spray, sun screen, and eclipse glasses or a pinhole projector.

Q: If I can’t travel, what will I be able to see?

A: In Raleigh, the effect of the eclipse is likely to be minimal. But NASA will be live-streaming it from noon to 4 p.m. You’ll be able to see that live stream at newsobserver.com. Coverage will include images from 12 locations, using airplanes, ground telescopes and 57 high-altitude balloons. To share the experience, attend an eclipse viewing party. We’ve got a list here: http://nando.com/4uy.

Martha Quillin: 919-829-8989, @MarthaQuillin

There S.C. towns are in the path of totality for the eclipse

Abbeville

Donalds

Jordan

Parker

South Sumter

Alcolu

Dorchester

Judson

Pauline

Springfield

Alvin

Due West

Kinards

Pawleys Island

St. Andrews

Anderson

Duncan

Kingstree

Paxville

St. George

Andrews

Dunean

Kirksey

Peak

St. Matthews

Antreville

Easley

Ladson

Pelion

St. Stephen

Arcadia Lakes

East Sumter

Lake Murray of Richland

Pelzer

Starr

Arial

Eastover

Lake Secession

Pendleton

Startex

Awendaw

Edgefield

Lakewood

Perry

Stateburg

Ballentine

Edisto

Lane

Pickens

Sullivans Island

Bamberg

Elgin

Laurens

Piedmont

Summerton

Batesburg

Elloree

Leesville

Pine Ridge

Summerville

Batesburg-Leesville

Enoree

Lexington

Pineridge

Summit

Belton

Epworth

Liberty

Pineville

Sumter

Berea

Eureka

Lincolnville

Pinewood

Swansea

Bethera

Eutawville

Little Mountain

Plum Branch

Taylors

Blackville

Fair Play

Livingston

Pocalla Springs

Townville

Blythewood

Five Forks

Lone Star

Pomaria

Travelers Rest

Bonneau

Forest Acres

Long Creek

Powderville

Trenton

Bowman

Foreston

Lowndesville

Princeton

Troy

Boyden Arbor

Fort Motte

Lugoff

Privateer

Turbeville

Boykin

Fountain Inn

Lyman

Promised Land

Union

Bradley

Gadsden

Manning

Prosperity

Utica

Branchville

Gantt

Marietta

Ravenwood

Valencia Heights

Brookdale

Gaston

Mauldin

Red Bank

Vance

Buffalo

Georgetown

Mayesville

Reevesville

Verdery

Cades

Gilbert

McClellanville

Reidville

Wade Hampton

Calhoun Falls

Gluck

McCormick

Rembert

Wagener

Cameron

Golden Grove

Millwood

Richtex

Walhalla

Canadys

Goose Creek

Monarch Mill

Ridge Spring

Wando

Cane Savannah

Graves

Moncks Corner

Ridgeville

Ward

Carlisle

Gray Court

Monetta

Ridgeway

Ware Shoals

Cayce

Greeleyville

Monticello

Rimini

Wateree

Centerville

Greenville

Moore

Rion

Waterloo

Central

Greenwood

Mount Carmel

Roebuck

Watts Mills

Chapin

Greer

Mount Holly

Rowesville

Wedgefield

Chappells

Grover

Mount Pleasant

Salem

Wedgewood

Charleston

Hanahan

Mountain Rest

Salley

Welcome

Cherryvale

Harleyville

Mountville

Salters

Wellford

City View

Hodges

Mulberry

Saluda

West Columbia

Clemson

Holly Hill

Neeses

Sandy Run

West Pelzer

Cleveland

Homeland Park

New Zion

Sandy Springs

West Union

Clinton

Honea Path

Newberry

Sans Souci

Westminster

Cokesbury

Hopkins

Ninety Six

Santee

White Oak

Columbia

Horatio

Norris

Seneca

Whitmire

Cope

Horrel Hill

North

Seven Oaks

Wilkinson Heights

Cordova

Huger

North Charleston

Shelton

Williamston

Coronaca

Irmo

Northlake

Shulerville

Willington

Cross

Isle of Palms

Norway

Silverstreet

Windsor

Cross Anchor

Iva

Oak Grove

Simpsonville

Winnsboro

Cross Hill

Jamestown

Oakland

Six Mile

Winnsboro Mills

Dalzell

Joanna

Oakley

Slater

Woodfield

Denmark

Johns Island

Orangeburg

Slater-Marietta

Woodford

Dentsville

Johnston

Oswego

South Congaree

Woodruff

  Comments