It's an event that has been in the works since the beginning of time. On August 21, 2017, the earth, moon, and sun will align in perfect unison to create a dazzling display of solar and planetary prowess.
The Serrano Indians believed an eclipse was the spirits of the dead attempting to devour the sun. In ancient China, people smashed mirrors to thwart the dragon they thought was eating the light from the sky. The Pomo tribe told a tale of a bear strolling along the Milky Way, fighting with the sun over who would move over as their paths converged.
Today, a solar eclipse is an opportunity for us to view a spectacular event that transforms our landscape into a surreal work of art. Some travel around the world for the best view, looking for the greatest point of maximum totality. And in 2017, that destination will be right here in western Kentucky.
The path of totality will cross the Ohio River into the Paducah area around 1:24 pm that day. While we will experience a total eclipse for two minutes and nineteen seconds, NASA calculates that the point of greatest eclipse upon the face of our globe will be at the Orchard Dale historical farm, just northwest of Hopkinsville. There, for two minutes and forty seconds, the optimum alignment of the earth, moon, and sun will occur.
The city of Hopkinsville received inquiries and media attention as early as 2011, and they've been proactively promoting the event, launching websites and creating the Facebook page Solar Eclipse Hopkinsville 2017. In true Kentucky fashion, their tagline is "The Most Exciting 2 Minutes 40 Seconds In Astronomy!"
For us in Paducah, the show will be no less spectacular. We will experience a pseudo-night aura. Stars may be visible. Birds will cease chirping as they come in to roost. And the sun will glow around the moon, creating a magnificent diamond ring effect in the sky.
So mark your calendars (at least digitally), and prepare to be dazzled as the cosmic ballet goes on!