August 21 – have you marked it on your calendar yet? That’s the date of the coming total solar eclipse. It’s the first total solar eclipse in the United States in close to 40 years, and northeastern Georgia is one of the places where you can experience it yourself.
The path of totality - that is, the path where the sun will be completely obscured by the moon and where a total eclipse will be visible - includes a number of Georgia’s state parks. Several parks are planning special festivities around the occasion.
To whet your appetite and help you get started with your planning, here’s a quick look at what’s planned at one of the parks within the band of totality – Vogel State Park in Blairsville, Ga.
Vogel State Park, located at the base of Blood Mountain, is one of Georgia’s oldest state parks. Offering hiking, camping and a 22-acre lake, it draws visitors from throughout the region. It’s a particularly popular destination in the fall when the leaves begin to change.
But Vogel’s popularity may peak on Aug. 21, since the park is within the area where the eclipse will be total.
The excitement starts at 10 a.m. and includes not only educational displays and special presentations (for example, you’ll learn about the science behind the eclipse and about how to view it safely) but hands-on activities too. In fact, kids can make their own pinhole solar eclipse viewing camera for just $1. They can also make a color-changing bracelet for $2 or their own eclipse book for free. There should be plenty of time to enjoy all of that before the eclipse itself begins.
When does the eclipse actually start there? At Vogel, the moon will begin to pass between the earth and the sun just a few minutes after 1 p.m. Gradually, the moon will obscure more and more of the sun until it completely blocks out the light and day turns to dark. At this site, totality will last from 2:34-2:36 p.m. – almost two minutes.
As you have no doubt heard, it is extremely dangerous to view the eclipse without special protective equipment. According to the park, the necessary special eclipse viewing glasses should be available for purchase for $2.
For more info on the eclipse-related activities at Vogel, call the park at 706-745-2628.
What about camping at Vogel during the eclipse? As you might expect, demand for campsites is extremely high during this rare event. As of this writing, Vogel State Park is fully booked from Sunday, Aug. 20, through Tuesday, Aug. 22. In fact, the park has been booked for eclipse day for a very long time, with people coming from all over the country (and even from outside the United States) to take advantage of the great viewing opportunity that Vogel State Park will offer.
There’s always a chance of a cancellation, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The next total eclipse to be visible in the United States will take place in April 2024, but it won’t be total in Georgia. So don’t let this one get away.