Hopkinsville is preparing for 50,000 visitors when the total solar eclipse crosses the U.S. on August 21. The city's Solar Eclipse Marketing and Events Consultant Brooke Jung outlined a range of plans in a community forum Tuesday night. Members of a film project involving Google and University of California Berkeley also visited as part of tour across the nation describing 'The Eclipse Megamovie 2017' project and a need for volunteer photographers.
Hopkinsville Planning Update
Hopkinsville is coordinating numerous efforts like shuttles for campsites, boosting emergency medical presence around the county, adding helicopter locations, requesting traffic assistance from state police and the National Guard, asking banks to increase money in ATMs and grocery stores to stock up on food and other items, enhancing cellular service around the county, adding tie-downs at the local airport and creating extra dumping locations for waste.
Jung said there has even been consideration keeping the street lights off when the sky goes dark, "We will not be turning power off to the entire city. I've gotten that question so I want to make that clear... But we will be designating some street lights to turn off around our designated viewing areas," she said - adding that lights will also be off in high-traffic areas where people are likely to view the eclipse.
Jung said no roads will be closed during the eclipse and anticipates extra traffic along Princeton Road. She said, however, a portion of downtown will be closed to traffic for the Summer Salute Festival.
Addressing food needs, in addition to restaurants there will be 50 food vendors at the downtown festival. There will also be 50 more around the county. The city RV spots are sold out, however some availability remains at area hotels. Some residents may offer their homes in a room-sharing service or a portion of their property for campers.
Area schools, including Hopkinsville Community College will be closed.
More information about events and planning related to the eclipse is on eclipseville.com.
The 'Eclipse Megamovie 2017' Project
Dr. Laura Peticolas and Chris Cable are touring the country to promote 'The Eclipse Megamovie,' a citizen-science project documenting the total solar eclipse. The project is a collaboration between U.C. Berkeley and Google to compile photos submitted by volunteer photographers of the eclipse at totality in an effort to study the changes of the corona over time. Totality is when the Moon blocks the Sun and the visible corona creates a ring effect.
The film is seeking more than 1,000 photographers to register and send in imagery to be compiled into a movie that will then be presented to the public and studied. The project is unique in that satellite imagery observing the corona has been somewhat limited and this effort would capture the process as seen from Earth using visible light. "We need you to do what NASA can't do. How cool is that?" Peticolas said.
They also demonstrated how educators and parents can teach the rare event, demonstrating what it would look like using simple experiments involving a flashlight (Sun) on a tennis ball (Moon) and the shadow effect crossing a beach ball (Earth).
Cable and Peticolas described eclipses as having been documented throughout history as being life-changing or awe-inspiring experiences. He said most of today's scientists can trace their interest in science to a single moment. "It might have been a teacher, it might have been a mentor, it might have been a parent. It might have been a natural phenomena that was so overwhelmingly awesome to them that it just changed their whole life. Well this eclipse that's happening on August 21 is such an event," Cable said.
Hopkinsville sits right near the point of 'greatest eclipse' meaning the the surrounding region (and southern Illinois) will have the longest duration of totality lasting two minutes 41 seconds. Totality will occur just after 1:24 in the afternoon local time.
The total solar eclipse will travel 1,500 miles an hour across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina.
Protective eyewear is strongly recommended to view the eclipse. While the special lenses aren't required during totality, before and after - as the Moon crosses the Sun - could cause permanent severe damage or blindness.