A total solar eclipse will race across the U.S. this month from Oregon to South Carolina, offering a once-in-a-lifetime celestial show.
On Aug. 21, the moon will pass in front of the sun, casting its shadow across all of North America. All of Kentucky will see a partial eclipse, but many places in the commonwealth will experience a total eclipse.
With two minutes and 40 seconds of totality, Hopkinsville is considered the best viewing location in the world, but an astronomy professor at Western Kentucky University says other cities in Kentucky are attractive viewing spots, as well. Dr. Richard Gelderman says, for example, Franklin will have totality for two minutes and 25 seconds.
"Hopkinsville gets you seconds more than other places," Gelderman explained. "My analogy is, 'If the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras were ever held on the same weekend, why would you go to New Orleans to pick up a gallon of milk?'"
Kentucky cities will offer totality ranging from about one minute in Bowling Green to two-and-a-half minutes in Russellville. Other cities considered prime viewing locations include Scottsville, Gamaliel, Central City, Madisonville, and Paducah.
Professor Gelderman advises that if you’re already somewhere in the path of totality, stay there to avoid the crowds and traffic gridlock anticipated on the day of the eclipse.
Dr. Gelderman adds that the few extra seconds you might view totality elsewhere will not be worth the chaos that could ensue on the roadways.
Several interactive maps that trace the path of the total solar eclipse can be found at www.wku.edu/eclipse.