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My little girl loves science. Over the years various teachers encouraged the obsession. She enjoys reading non-fiction books about animals, plants, and solar systems. Her favorite activities involve the word- “experiment.” We’re constantly growing or testing things. In fact, I have a jar with a raw egg and vinegar currently sitting on my counter.

Unfortunately, though, science has never been my thing. I struggle to connect with her passion. However, when I can- I LOVE to fuel her education. And, when it involves travel- you know I’m on board!

Recently she came to me asking “mom, can we go to Columbia, South Carolina in August?” Though her question came out of the blue, I readily agreed. Ironically, we were in Columbia last August and I assumed it had something to do with returning to the zoo. (Side note: The Riverbanks Zoo is awesome!) She proceeded to get a little more specific and I realized it had nothing to do with a zoo trip.

Great, we need to go on August 21st. And we need to be there at 2:43PM. But maybe a little before then so we don’t miss it.

Finally, she filled me in on the most important detail- there’s a solar eclipse. She probably should have led with that information! However, I instantly felt like there must have been a misunderstanding (keep in mind, I am NOT science-y!) I mean, we all see the sun so why would the eclipse only happen in certain areas? So I did what I always do when my walking encyclopedia of a daughter presents me with knowledge I don’t understand- I went straight to google!

Sure enough, “The Great American Eclipse” takes place on August 21st. Although it spans coast to coast, there are certain locations optimal for viewing. And, in fact, it will not be visible everywhere. There is a path set across the map where the eclipse can be viewed (and please don’t ask me how in the world they determine this months ahead of time! I’m taking their word for it!)

Map for Great American Eclipse viewing areas.

Of course that day, everything will be based on weather. The eclipse will be so short- just a minute or two- that even few stray clouds could ruin the sighting. But, similar to planning an outdoor wedding- sometimes you take your chances! Weather aside, they’ve determined the best viewing spot in the US will be Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

A few other notable cities along the path include: Nashville, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; and St. Joseph, Missouri. If you’re looking for a more remote viewing, Great Smoky Mountain National Park ¬†and Snake River Valley (Idaho) also fall directly on the line.

You’ve got 3 months to plan a trip to see this once in a lifetime phenomenon!

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