HOPKINSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A crowd of roughly 100,000 people is expected to descend on Kentucky in three years when what's normally a once-in-a-lifetime event takes place: a total solar eclipse. The moon will pass directly in front of the sun, casting a shadow on Earth.
It will all start on the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 off the coast of Seattle, Washington. The shadow path will then work its way to the other side of the contiguous United States into Charleston, South Carolina later that evening. That would make it the longest total solar eclipse path in the United States in 99 years.
What's unique to our region is that one Kentucky town will experience the point of Greatest Eclipse: GPS location 36.9°N 87.6°W. which is just northwest of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
That also happens to be Mark Cansler's farm.
“It's my understanding that you can see the stars," said Cansler. "That'll be the neatest thing in my eyes -- to be able to see the stars."
The time of totality will begin at 1:27 p.m. CDT, so if skies are clear, the stars indeed will be visible at that hour.
In fact, temperatures will drop, crickets will chirp, and for a solid two minutes and 40 seconds, the sun will disappear.
Such a huge event for a small town requires a lot of planning. That's why the conversation about plans for the eclipse have started so early.
“We are a small community compared to Louisville or Lexington or other larger communities in Kentucky," said Paul Tomaszewski, who is helping lead the Hopkinsville Eclipse 2017 Committee, "but this community is good at putting things together."
With 100,000 spectators expected in a town of 40,000, space is key. Staging areas already are being set up and designed. Electric and highway departments already are working on a plan for controlling traffic and shutting off the street lights.
And as far as a place to crash? Tomaszewski has this advice: ”If you do actually plan to have a hotel booked for any number of days, you need to get on the phone and take care of that right now. Book somewhere close by or you might be camping out."
The community vows to be ready.
”You better embrace it 'cause it's gonna happen whether you want it to or not”, said Cansler.
If weather conditions cause less-than-ideal viewing during the 2017 eclipse, Kentuckiana has another chance to witness a total solar eclipse just seven years later on April 8, 2024. It is rare for this kind of eclipse to happen twice in such a short span. The last total solar eclipse was in 1918.
You can become an eclipse chaser. Hopkinsville already is selling t-shirts for the 2017 eclipse.