Northeast Georgia in the path of totality
Agritourism spots, state parks prepare to host eclipse viewing parties
By Leslie Davis
On Monday, Aug. 21, a scientific phenomenon known as a total solar eclipse will sweep the nation from coast to coast. Dubbed by scientists as the "Great American Eclipse," this is the first total solar eclipse our nation has seen travel across the Continental U.S. in 99 years. This eclipse will follow what is known as the path of totality from Newport, Ore., to Charleston, S.C. The northeastern corner of Georgia falls within that path. For those interested in viewing the total eclipse, it is first important to understand why this is happening.
Total solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, and Earth's view of the sun is blocked. When this happens, the sky will turn dark, stars will come out and Earth's temperature will begin to drop, much like it does during nighttime. If viewed from within the path of totality, the sun will appear like a black sphere in the sky and its atmosphere - more commonly known as the corona - will be visible to the human eye. Do not expect this to last long though. Depending on where the eclipse is being viewed, the period of totality will only last a matter of minutes.
Even though this event is relatively short, many describe it as a life-changing experience and not one that can be done justice through the lens of a camera.
Because the state of Georgia is lucky enough to have its northeastern region within the path of totality, this means that many agritourism spots will be hosting celebrations for people around the state to enjoy. Various places in Fannin, Towns, Rabun, Union and White counties are hosting viewing parties and tailgates.
"We are very excited that Cleveland, Helen and Sautee Nacoochee in White County are in the totality path of the solar eclipse on August 21st, providing residents and visitors a once in a lifetime experience," said Cindy Bailey, president of the White County Chamber of Commerce and Welcome Center. "We have numerous educational and celebratory activities through the county occurring prior to and during the event."
The county even has a Facebook page solely devoted to the event - the White County Eclipse Page. It is the hope of many smaller areas around the northeastern region of Georgia that the solar eclipse will help to put them on the map as potential tourist destinations to visit even after the eclipse is over.
"We are so excited for the upcoming solar eclipse because we believe that this will lead to huge exposure for our area," said Tobie Chandler, tourism director of the Blairsville Union County Chamber of Commerce. "Our hope is that those people who have never heard about our little mountain town will come here for the eclipse and will love the area just as much as we do. We hope that many of them will even come back and spend their fall weekends with us."
Whether viewers spend time camping at Brasstown Bald or attending the catered viewing party at Yonah Mountain Vineyards, one thing is for sure: to fully experience the wonder that is the total solar eclipse, observers must take the journey to the eclipse's path of totality. Book a trip to a Georgia agritourism spot within that path sooner rather than later in order to ensure the chance to experience this once in a lifetime event.
Solar Eclipse Viewing Safety Tips
- It is important to remember to wear solar viewing glasses at all times of the partial eclipse leading up to the period of totality.
- Only during the brief period of totality is it safe to look at the eclipse without solar glasses.
- Regular sunglasses are not enough to protect your eyes. You must use AAS-approved solar viewing glasses.
- Viewing the eclipse without proper eyewear can result in sunburn of your eyes or even blindness.
- Georgia residents can find local libraries in their area giving out free solar glasses here: http://spacescience.org/software/libraries/map.php
- To find an additional list of AAS-approved solar viewers visit: https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters