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Total eclipse in Music City: A wedding, a festival and 300,000 solar glasses

Last total eclipse to pass over Music City happened before Nashville exsisted

The solar system exhibit at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, Tenn. on August 18, 2017 as the center prepares for the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21.
The solar system exhibit at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, Tenn. on August 18, 2017 as the center prepares for the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21. (Emilee Speck/WKMG)

NASHVILLE, Fla. – The last time the moon's shadow totally blocked out the sun above Nashville, the city wasn't even established.

The Adventure Science Center has been planning for this stellar event since the transit of Venus in 2012, the center's astronomy director Derrick Rohl told News 6.

"This is something that has been a long time in the making," Rohl said. "When you look at Nashville as a whole, the last time that the ground we're standing on experienced a total solar eclipse was 1478."

Meaning the 2017 Great American Eclipse will be the first for Music City and the largest city to experience the total eclipse along the path of totality.

To prepare, the nonprofit science center started selling solar eclipse glasses for $2 more than a year ago. They sold out days before the Aug. 21 blackout. The proceeds cover the cost of a three-day outdoor festival that kicks off Saturday and will be free for all. The Science Center did save 10,000 solar glasses to sell or for volunteers at the festival this weekend.

The event will be the eclipse with a "Nashville twist," which includes a concert series, spokeswoman Alexis McCoy said.

More than 80 different exhibitors, including big names in science from NASA and the European Space Agency, will offer hands on activities for the festival goers.

"We have everybody from teachers in space, to explore mars, we have high altitude ballon launches and even a mock cockpit from the stratospheric glider," McCoy said. "All of these people are coming here to offer hands on activities to our guests for free."

News 6 was there Friday as crews set up dozens of tables and tents and built up the concert stage.

The festival planners expect tens of thousands of people of all ages. Depending on the school district, some Tennessee children will have the day off.

The day of the eclipse, a couple will exchange vows at the Science Center in the morning and a new virtual reality experience will be on full display.

Sunday night some festival tents will be torn down to allow for better skygazing space for visitors to the center.

Rohl, who will experience his first total solar eclipse along with Nashville, said Music City makes the perfect place to watch the astronomical event for visitors here for the weekend. Because what's better than topping off a visit with a total eclipse?


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