Georgia State Co-hosts OutASight Total Solar Eclipse Festival To View Rare Astronomical Phenomenon As It Sweeps Across U.S.
ATLANTA—A total solar eclipse will cause daytime skies to darken in cities across the continental United States on Aug. 21, and organizers in Rabun County, Ga., and Atlanta are planning activities to enable people to experience an event that has not occurred for almost a century.
The two-minute-and-34-second eclipse—in which the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the sun and causing a temporary twilight—will be visible from coast to coast.
Although Atlanta lies just outside the path of totality, viewers will be able to experience a full solar eclipse in Rabun County in the northeast corner of the state. There the Rabun County Tourism Development Authority and the Georgia State University Astronomy Department will co-sponsor the OutASight Total Solar Eclipse Festival, hosted at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School.
Organizers expect the event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to draw thousands of spectators from across the region. During the viewing party, large screens will broadcast interviews with Georgia State experts, a live feed from NASA as the eclipse travels across the nation and images from the university’s sophisticated solar telescopes. Rabun Gap has been designated an official NASA site, meaning the space agency will upload and use the telescopic images taken at the location. The festival will also feature live music, food trucks and a station where people can create a pinhole camera for safe eclipse viewing.
During the period of totality—which will begin just before 2:36 p.m.—a curtain of darkness will descend and the outermost layer of the sun’s atmosphere, a wispy halo called the corona, will become visible. A total solar eclipse is the only time scientists are able to observe the corona, and the occasion once provided a unique opportunity to better understand events such as solar weather. In 1919 astronomers proved that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was correct by observing a star near the sun during an eclipse.
“Today technology has improved to the point that astronomers no longer need an eclipse to study the sun’s atmosphere,” says Dr. Dan McGimsey, astronomy lecturer at Georgia State, and one of the event’s organizers. “However, total eclipses still present an extraordinary experience for the public.”
On Georgia State’s downtown campus, passersby will be able to view the eclipse from solar telescopes set up in front of 25 Park Place. Inside the building, from noon until 4 p.m., students, faculty and staff can watch a live feed from Rabun County in conference room 223, where Georgia State astronomers will answer questions and provide more information about the phenomenon.
For more information about the Rabun County event, go to explorerabun.com/total-eclipse/.