At 1:24 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2017, the sky will go dark for 2 minutes and 40 seconds and the stars will come out.
The reason for that is, at that moment, a total eclipse of the sun will take place, and the best place to watch it will be just northwest of Hopkinsville, where the eclipse will last longer than anywhere else on earth.
“We have been getting emails for five years about this, and we have five more years to go,” said Cheryl Cook, executive director of the Hopkinsville-Christian County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “People are already calling for hotel rooms, but the hotels don’t book that far out.”
A Monday press conference at Hopkinsville Community College focused on the eclipse and the 48-hour rush of tourists that is likely to come with it. Cook, HCC President James Selbe and Scott Bain, an assistant professor of physics at HCC, spoke at the conference.
Bain warned people that watching the eclipse without eye protection could be harmful to a person’s vision.
“We will be using a special filter on our telescope,” he said.
The school has a 9.25-inch diameter telescope, which Bain and his students will be using. “I believe animals will get confused because they won’t know whether it is day or night,” he said.
A press release from the community college states: “This will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the mainland United States since 1979.”
A total solar eclipse can only be seen by those in the narrow path created by the moon’s shadow as it passes in front of the sun. At its widest point, here in Kentucky, the path will be just about 71 miles wide, according to the release.
Because total solar eclipses are so hard to see, astronomy enthusiasts will travel to the path of the eclipse to watch the event. It was reported that about 10,000 tourists gathered in towns in both China and Russia to watch a total solar eclipse in 2008.
REACH TOM KANE at 270-887-3238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.