Lakeland’s Sarah Breed is among dozens of Polk County residents who aren’t satisfied to watch the solar show at home, where the moon will cover approximately 85 percent of the sun, making for a partial eclipse.
LAKELAND — Weather permitting, the pending solar eclipse will give everyone within the continental United States a pretty good show.
But to view the natural phenomenon in all of its glorious totality on Aug. 21, you must head for a narrow strip that bisects the nation, stretching from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C.
Lakeland’s Sarah Breed started planning months ago for a trip to Charleston to view her first total eclipse. No doubt the seaside town will be awash in out-of-towners looking skyward, protective eyewear firmly affixed.
Breed is among dozens of Polk County residents who aren’t satisfied to watch the solar show at home, where the moon will cover approximately 85 percent of the sun, making for a partial eclipse.
For Breed, 29, it’s all about the chance to witness an event that has captured the nation’s imagination, as well as visiting historic Charleston for the first time. She booked a hotel room well in advance, but a number of travelers report that accommodations are rapidly filling up, especially in choice viewing areas.
Protective eyewear, too, can be hard to find.
Special solar shades that meet international safety standards — ISO 12312-2 — have been flying off the shelves of retailers like Lowe’s Home Improvement. Lowe’s stores throughout greater Lakeland report they’ve sold out of the $2 eclipse glasses, but hope to be re-supplied in time for the Aug. 21 main event.
Breed said she’s ready, almost. She and her mother have booked a room, but the special eyewear they ordered online turned out not to comply with safety standards. Still, she’s confident she’ll find the right equipment in time.
“It’s just an experience that few have an opportunity to see,” she said. “I’ve never been to Charleston and I thought it would be a good opportunity.”
Some local shadow chasers are astronomy buffs who are zeroing in to maximize the duration of the totality of the eclipse. Such is the case with Lakeland’s Kevin Schwabe, 47, who is heading for Niota, Tenn., where the duration will exceed several minutes.
The longest anyone will be able to see the totality event, where the moon fully covers the sun, is 2 minutes and 40 seconds. That’s in Hopkinsville, Ky.
“(Niota) is where the centerline (of the moon’s shadow) is crossing Interstate 75,” Schwabe said. “The closer to the middle, the longer the totality is. We should hopefully have a couple of minutes” to witness the totality.
Lakeland’s Joe Concepcion is heading into the wilds of North Georgia to get a better view of the eclipse, preferring the solitude of the Appalachian Trail.
“Tomorrow is never guaranteed so why waste the moment?” he said in an email. “I love hiking and outdoor exploration. … My main motivation comes down to wanting to experience an amazing natural phenomenon in an amazing setting.”
Vancouver, Wash., lies just outside the swath of 100 percent totality, but it’s close enough to motivate Lauren Magnusson of Lakeland to make the trip.
The retired science teacher has family in Vancouver, a close neighbor to Portland, Ore. So she and her mother, Janice Andersen, of Winter Haven, plan a trip westward, in part to celebrate Andersen’s 80th birthday.
“It’s kind of a twofer,” said Magnusson, 56, adding that she’s not that much into astronomy. “I’m more of a science buff. I’m a retired biology teacher, so it (the eclipse) is not in my wheelhouse. But it’s pretty cool.”
Eric Pera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7528.
13 August 2017 12:33 am
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