Photo via Pixabay
On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible from a narrow streak of the United States, running diagonally across the nation from Oregon to South Carolina. While this band will pass well north of Louisiana, it will go through or near several places that could make great weekend destinations for local skywatchers interested in taking in the cosmic spectacle.
The eclipse’s path with move across almost the whole breadth of Tennessee, giving visitors to the attraction-packed state their choice of places to wait for the shadow. Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, a notch of Tennessee and Kentucky pinned between dammed lakes on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, is a particularly good choice. The area was fairly isolated before it drew the attention of the Tennessee Valley Authority during the New Deal, which wanted to construct an example of how recreational lands can have multiple uses. Today, the area is a popular outdoor relaxation spot, packed with natural beauty and amenities--including a particularly relevant planetarium.
Created by Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com
Nashville is the largest city in the path of totality, and is planning a number of municipal events, detailed on the city’s website—as if you needed more reasons to visit this nexus of music and history! Further east, Chattanooga sits a short drive off the path of totality. Chattanooga was the last major obstacle for Sherman’s invasion of Georgia, and you could easily fill a weekend visiting the Civil War sites that surround Lookout Mountain, along unique Americana attraction Rock City of billboard fame (which sits atop Lookout Mountain). From Chattanooga, it’s only a short drive into the gorgeous Smoky Mountains to watch the eclipse. And of course, no description of tourist attractions in east Tennessee would be complete without mention of the closest we’ll get to heaven on this earth—Dollywood.
The eclipse’s American path will end as it moves across South Carolina, flirting with Charleston on its way out to sea. If you’re interested, now’s the time--the next solar eclipse in the United States will take a Texas-to-Maine route in 2024, and the next one to pass over Louisiana will amaze our descendants in 2078.