As per the University of Chapel Hill Morehead Planetarium website:
A total solar eclipse is considered by many to be the most awesome natural occurrence. During totality, it turns dark in the daytime, the temperature drops, and the Sun’s corona and bright stars and planets become visible.
The last time that a total eclipse crossed the entire contiguous US from coast to coast was in 1918. When the Moon passes in front of the Sun, the entire United States will experience a partial solar eclipse and those within the “path of totality” (a roughly 70-mile wide path from Oregon to South Carolina) will experience a total solar eclipse lasting a couple minutes.
I live in Chapel Hill, NC which isn’t in the direct path but has a projected 93% partial eclipse. Charleston SC would be the nearest city where I could witness a full eclipse, but with the projected traffic problems and too-many-people in a given space problems the 93% seems to be the wiser choice and I’m psyched for the 93 because I’m going to a party!
The world-famous University of Chapel Hill Morehead Planetarium is hosting a solar eclipse party. This is the mother ship of astronomy with a storied history of training astronauts and some of our best scientists. Viewing the eclipse in this scientific environment with thousands of other happy-to-see-93 will make up for not seeing the full Monty.
Since traffic and parking is going to be a problem in any site hosting an eclipse viewing my wife and I bike the 3.5 miles to the event. We pedal into an amazing geek party where we can all unite in celebration with a break, albeit short, from adolescent tweets, Russia, North Korea, Isis, healthcare, and global warming (thanks for cooling us off moon).
It’s a diverse, smart University crowd with many treating the eclipse at the same level as the Cubs winning the World Series. University bells rang and the crowd cheered at 2:43 when the eclipse maxed and all the spectators united to celebrate this rare natural wonder. As spectacular as the eclipse was the party was the real story uniting a diverse group to watch an amazing show. People shared solar viewing glasses and UNC scientists shared their expertise to maximize the experience. Watching and feeling the excitement reinforces my choice to stay local.
So when is 93 better than 100? It turns out that Chapel Hill’s 93% partial eclipse may have been a better experience than Charleston’s 100% full eclipse where millions had endured traffic and lodging problems to be disappointed in a cloud obscured event. So while we were enjoying a scientific party people are probably still trying to get out of parking lots to crawl on to highways that become parking lots hopefully to be home before the next full eclipse in 2024.