Only 4 percent of the population lives within the path of Monday’s total solar eclipse, but the slice of territory that will experience totality occupies a large plot of real estate. The moon’s shadow will carve a 70-mile-wide path encompassing some 173,000 square miles, or about 111 million acres. From coast to coast, it will travel 2,480 miles.
The path spans purple mountains majesty to the amber waves of grain. And it will pass over some other curious sites as well…
If you can’t make it all the way over to England to see Stonehenge, you’re in luck — Alliance, Neb., has the next best thing.
This megalithic monument, composed entirely of decommissioned automobiles, replicates the “original” quite well. More importantly, people who visit will find themselves smack dab in the middle of Monday’s total solar eclipse.
Over in England, Stonehenge was built in a way that its orientation results in special alignments of stones with key planets and celestial bodies at different points in the year.
Appropriately, Carhenge was originally built by Jim Reinders as a memorial to his father, having been officially dedicated on the summer solstice in 1987. The partial eclipse will begin at 10:27 Mountain time on Monday, with totality commencing around 11:49. Up to 60,000 people are expected to huddle together around the partially buried vehicles to enjoy the show.
The Great Plains aren’t exactly known for very exciting topography — after all, part of their allure are the gorgeous panoramic views stretching from horizon to horizon. But Grand Island, Neb., does feature an “artificial hill,” erected in 1980 following a particularly bad tornado outbreak.
A total of 18 tornadoes formed that day, seven of which affected the city. Six fatalities resulted, as well as a billion dollars’ worth of damage. The highly unusual supercell storm behaved bizarrely, tracking southeast, spawning three anticyclonic tornadoes — even an F4 beast.
The event also prompted Ivy Ruckman to author her fictionalized account, “Night of the Twisters,” which later inspired a movie that premiered in February of 1996.
After the storm’s devastating rampage, debris removal became a challenge, and an eight-foot hole was dug to bury burned debris. The charred remains piled higher than expected, however, and now a 40-foot-tall mound, dubbed Tornado Hill, stands in Ryder Park.
Totality will occur just before 1 p.m. there.
The Gateway Arch
While many photographers are gearing up to photograph St. Louis’s brush with totality as framed through the coveted Gateway Arch, they’re forgetting one thing: the arch itself is not in the path of totality.
In fact, they’ll miss it by only about nine-tenths of a mile. In other words, if you walk a mere eight arch-lengths south of the actual Gateway Arch, you’ll get to enjoy the full splendor of totality. Those gawking through the arch, though, will be out of luck.
For anyone with their heart set on seeing both the eclipse and the arch, there is one place you can do it — along the banks of the Mississippi just west of the St. Louis Airport. Here, you’ll be able to see a few seconds of totality right after 1:16 p.m. Central time, and you can squint to catch a glimpse of the arch a couple of miles away along the northern horizon.
In cooperation with the Gateway Arch, the Tom Sawyer Riverboat will be snaking down the Mississippi River at 10:30 a.m., featuring an afternoon of eclipse-viewing. The sold-out cruise will have light refreshments and “eclipse-themed desserts,” a cash bar and even live music.
So theoretically, there’s a chance the lucky few that scored tickets aboard could be drinking a Corona while viewing the sun’s corona, simultaneously listening to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” during the actual eclipse itself. Talk about the stars aligning!
The Batman Building
Music City is going to be a key destination for the eclipse, with perhaps hundreds of thousands of “extra” tourists cramming into the city. One of the most iconic buildings in Nashville, hands-down, is the “Batman Building,” owned by Pitney Bowes and Cerberus Capital Management, and located in the heart of downtown Nashville.
The two-winged AT&T building towers 617 feet above the ground. What does this mean? Well, with the sun plastered 64 degrees up in the sky at 1:27 p.m. as totality strikes, anyone standing about 270 feet to the north-northeast of the building (at a 21 degree bearing) will see the moon-sun combo “balanced” between two highest points of the structure, offering a remarkable photo op.
This corresponds to the intersection of Third Avenue and Commerce Street, just outside of Another Broken Egg Cafe and Brugada. So, if you’re looking for a cool doubleheader at a spot that few others will think to snag, try your luck with the lineup! You may just capture something spectacular.
Sawtooth National Forest
Idaho is perhaps the crown jewel for last-minute eclipse seekers to visit, and no place in Idaho is more scenic than the serene Sawtooth National Forest.
The forest comprises more than 2 million acres, and at least a half-dozen miniature mountain ranges transect the plot, which is home to several unique species.
Among these is the Christ’s Indian Paintbrush. A couple hundred of the plants grow above 9,000 feet elevation on Mount Harrison. This spot affords a truly magnificent view of surrounding areas. Over 1,000 lakes pepper the region, adding to an already pristine natural beauty.
In addition, Idaho has a better-than-average chance of weather that will permit eclipse viewing. Hundreds of miles to the west, however, dozens of wildfires are burning, spewing ash, soot and smoke into the upper levels of the atmosphere, where they become caught up in jet-stream winds. An upper-level low developing later in the weekend along the Pacific Coast may spiral some of this smoke inward, spreading a thin veil over much of Central Idaho. This could further amplify the colors of the eclipse, casting a beautiful sunset-like hue across the daytime sky.