Darkness will fall
Danny Vowell

You might want to mark this day on your calendar: Aug. 21, 2017.

And while you’re at it, mark this time: 1:24 p.m.

At that exact moment, on that date a little more than 10 years from today, Hopkinsville will become the focus of a natural phenomenon that likely will attract thousands of people from around the world.

People will flock to Hopkinsville from every corner of the globe to see the sky turn dark in the middle of the day.

They will come for a total eclipse of the sun.

Because of the precise position of the sun, the moon, and the earth, on that day, the Hopkinsville area will experience the greatest duration of the eclipse of any spot on the plant.

The eclipse will last 2 minutes and 40 seconds, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Ten years might seem like a long time to prepare for an event that will last less than the time it takes to drive from the Bradford Square mall to Ferrell’s. But one amateur astronomer in Pennsylvania believes it’s not too early for the city to begin thinking of ways to make the most of the eclipse.

“You could have 3,000 Japanese tourists in Hopkinsville that day,” said David Jordan, of New Cumberland, Pa. “It wouldn’t surprise me a bit.”

Jordan, 54, said he plans to be in Hopkinsville on Aug. 21, 2017. He’s trying to convince his wife they ought to come down soon to check out the area.

Jordan, a retired fish and wildlife worker with the state of Pennsylvania, has traveled to witness seven eclipses in the last 25 years.

“It can be very dramatic,” he said in a telephone interview. “It will get dark out, like nighttime.”

At one eclipse Jordan experienced, the frogs began croaking as if night had actually fallen.

A town like Hopkinsville could have a parade down Main Street to herald the arrival of the eclipse, Jordan suggested.

Plans have to be made for so many things, like how to keep street lights from turning on so that everyone gets the full effect of the brief darkness in the middle of the day, he noted. Aug. 21, 2017 falls on a Monday. That means a decision has to be made about whether to close schools and some offices for the day.

Here’s another thing to consider. The eclipse will occur on the 62nd anniversary of the Kelly Green Men incident. On that day in 1955, a family at Kelly said that aliens landed near their home in North Christian.

Total solar eclipses are rare. Often, they occur in the middle of an ocean or a remote area where travel is difficult.

The last total solar eclipse in the United States occurred in 1979.

A total eclipse occurs when a new moon is between the sun and the earth. The shadow of the moon hits the earth, creating the eclipse.

The path of totality, the area where darkness occurs is 100 miles wide. Hopkinsville is the one city in the United States that falls almost at the center of the path of totality.

According to coordinates provided by NASA, the exact center of the path of totality will be 36 degrees, 58.5 north, latitude, and 87 degrees, 39.3 west, longitude.

Using a mobile Global Positioning System device, the New Era found that exact spot Tuesday afternoon. It is located in the middle of Mary Jane Cornelius’ hayfield on Princeton Road, about halfway between the Stone Quarry Road and Dr. Hatcher Road.

Cornelius said there’s nothing special about the field. They grow fescue and clover hay there.

Steve Scallions, who lives next door to the field, couldn’t believe he is living so close to a special place.

“Right there, huh?” he said, looking across the field from his front yard. “That’s great. I want to see that.”

Jennifer P. Brown can be reached at 887-3236 or at jpbrown@kentuckynewera.com.

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