Much of tonight has been spent sat in the hotel bar devising what is going to be something of a military operation tomorrow. With the help of an iPad, an iPhone, and several paper maps of the state of Tennessee I’ve figured out where I want to go and when I need to leave here. It’s early in the morning. Very early.
There are a number of factors that I’ve had to consider. The weather is the obvious one but that seems to be set for the whole of the state now with blue skies forecast for pretty much all of the day with the chance of an odd cloud later in the afternoon. The eclipse itself reaches totality at just after 2:30pm local time so it looks like all will be ok on that front. Location is also key. The band of totality is no more than seventy miles wide and the closer you are to the centre of that band the better – at the centre you’ll get 2 minutes 30 seconds of totality but, at the edge, you will only get a few brief seconds. What I’ve tried to do is find a small town that is on the centre of that line but away from (large) population centres. By leaving very early I’m hoping I’ll be able to dump the car somewhere near and then walk in to the centre of the town for the eclipse itself. The town in question has a population in the hundreds but is expecting anywhere between ten and sixty thousand people to descend on it and the surrounding area tomorrow.
That said, accurately judging how busy it’s going to be really is difficult. As there’s never been an eclipse of this scale across the United States in modern times there is no basis for the estimates of numbers. The fact that the band of totality is going across the entire country is perhaps beneficial (spreads the load), but there are still hundreds of millions of people within a few hours drive of the magic band. The major media outlets are predicting ‘carmageddon’ and that all major routes are going to grind to a halt. I’m thinking these predictions may dissuade a number of people from attempting to make the journey.
Whatever happens it’s going to be an interesting day. A solar eclipse is such a rare thing it really is a once in a lifetime event. The temperature will drop by up to twenty degrees during the progression of the eclipse and you basically see a simultaneous sunset on every horizon, coupled with ‘hole in the sky’ and star field above you. It’s supposed to be life-changing so, if this is the last you hear from me before my resurgence as a country music star, it’s been a good run.
Oh and where a I going to see it? That information is strictly need to know… else the whole internet will descend on the location too!