2024 Solar Eclipse: The Best Solar Viewpoints in the Smokies

2024 Solar Eclipse The Best Solar Viewpoints in the Smokies

In the realm of outer space related events, few experiences capture the imagination quite like a solar eclipse. As the moon delicately aligns itself between the Earth and the sun, casting its shadow upon our planet, the world is treated to a mesmerizing display of the magic of nature. On April 8, 2024 (beginning at approximately 12:30pm and ending at 4:25pm) a solar eclipse is set to grace the skies, offering viewers in the Great Smoky Mountains region a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness this cosmic dance firsthand.

What is a Solar Eclipse?

2024 Solar Eclipse The Best Solar Viewpoints in the Smokies

The chance to experience a solar eclipse holds a special place on the bucket-lists of astronomers, skywatchers and general space enthusiasts alike. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, obscuring the sun either partially or entirely from view. This alignment results in a temporary dimming of the sky as the moon casts its shadow, known as the umbra, over certain regions of the Earth.

The significance of viewing a solar eclipse with your own eyes cannot be overstated. It’s a rare astronomic event that has captivated humanity’s imagination for centuries, inspiring awe and wonder as well as inspiring countless tales and a deeper appreciation for the cosmos. From ancient civilizations to modern-day astronomers, the draw of witnessing a solar eclipse transcends time and culture, serving as a poignant reminder of our very small place in the universe.

What Makes the 2024 Solar Eclipse Special?

2024 Solar Eclipse The Best Solar Viewpoints in the Smokies

Now, if you’ve never had the chance of witnessing this natural wonder before, you may be wonder what the big deal is. Unlike its predecessors, this eclipse will pass over a vast swath of the United States, offering millions of people the opportunity to witness this remarkable incident firsthand. The path of totality, where viewers can experience the full spectacle of a total solar eclipse, will be much wider than previous eclipses, ensuring accessibility for a wide range of observers.

What sets the 2024 solar eclipse apart is not just its accessibility but also its timing, duration, and rarity. Not only is it incredibly uncommon to have two solar eclipses occurring so close together – with only seven years since the last eclipse in 2017 – this will also be the longest total solar eclipse visible from the United States since 1806. Some locations will even experience over four minutes of complete darkness! Additionally, the eclipse promises to showcase rare phenomena such as the 360-degree sunset, silvery-purple sky, and the ethereal glow of the sun’s corona. While most of Tennessee and the entirety of the Smoky Mountain region fall outside of the path of totality, eager spectators in the Smokies will still be able to enjoy nearly 90% totality – something that shouldn’t be missed.

Best Places to View the Partial Eclipse

2024 Solar Eclipse The Best Solar Viewpoints in the Smokies

While the path of totality offers the most dramatic views of the eclipse, those outside this path can still witness a partial eclipse, which is a breathtaking sight in its own right. Here are some of the best places in the Smoky Mountains region to view the partial eclipse:

  • Clingmans Dome:
    As the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome offers spectacular panoramic views ideal for eclipse viewing. Its elevated vantage point provides an excellent perspective for celestial events. However, due to this location’s popularity, it is estimated to attract a larger-than-average crowd on the day of the big event.
  • Cades Cove:
    This picturesque valley surrounded by mountains provides plenty of open air and a stunning backdrop for eclipse viewing. With its open spaces and unobstructed views of the sky, Cades Cove is an ideal spot for a partial eclipse viewing.
  • Myrtle Point on Mt. LeConte:
    Accessible via the Alum Cave Trail and one of the most strenuous viewpoints to get to, Myrtle Point offers panoramic vistas of the Great Smoky Mountains. While the trail may be challenging, the payoff of witnessing the eclipse from this elevated position is well worth the effort.
  • Ober Gatlinburg:
    A popular ski resort with an aerial tramway boasting enclosed cabins, Ober Gatlinburg offers convenient access and family-friendly amenities at nearly 2,700 ft above sea level. Its elevated location makes it an excellent choice for eclipse viewing.
  • Gatlinburg SkyBridge:
    For a unique perspective on the eclipse and some wonder photo opportunities, head to the Gatlinburg SkyPark, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America. With its unobstructed views framed by the lush mountains of the Smokies, the SkyBridge provides a thrilling vantage point for this celestial event.
  • Look Rock Tower:
    Located along the Foothills Parkway, the Look Rock Tower offers easy access and unobstructed views of the sky. Its convenient parking and elevated platform make it a wonderful choice for eclipse chasers.
  • Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge:
    This community park offers open spaces and a relaxed atmosphere for eclipse viewing. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy the celestial show with friends and family.
  • Your Cabin:
    If you’re staying in one of Parkside Resort’s cabins, you can enjoy the eclipse from the comfort and privacy of your own deck or balcony. With amenities like cozy living areas, hot tubs, firepits, and incredible views, your cabin provides the perfect setting for an intimate eclipse experience.

For those eager to witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of a solar eclipse in the Smoky Mountains, preparation is key. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or simply an onlooker, careful planning is essential to fully capture the eclipse in all its grandeur. Practical solar eclipse photography tips, such as using the correct filters, adjusting camera settings, and employing proper techniques, can make all the difference in immortalizing this momentous event (while keeping you safe). Additionally, utilizing smartphone apps to track the eclipse’s progress and direction can enhance your experience, keeping you informed every step of the way.

Since prime viewing locations are likely to be crowded, it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a decent spot. This allows ample time to set up and settle in before the show begins. Comfort is also important during the wait, especially if you have kiddos with you, so be sure to pack the essentials like blankets, chairs, snacks, water and some low-tech entertainment (like a deck of cards). Dressing in layers and applying sun protection will ensure you can focus on the eclipse’s beauty without any discomfort.

How to View an Eclipse Safely

2024 Solar Eclipse The Best Solar Viewpoints in the Smokies

While witnessing a solar eclipse is a thrilling experience, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Here are some tips for safely viewing the eclipse:

  • Use Proper Eye Protection:
    Never look directly at the sun during an eclipse without certified eclipse glasses or filters. This specialized eyewear will protect your eyes from harmful solar radiation.
  • Avoid Direct Sun Exposure:
    Even during a partial eclipse, the sun’s rays can cause eye damage. Avoid looking at the sun without proper protection regardless of the magnitude of the eclipse’s totality.
  • Educate the Children:
    Make sure everyone in your group understands the importance of eye safety during the eclipse. Supervise young children closely to ensure they don’t accidentally expose themselves to the sun’s rays.

Now We Wait

2024 Solar Eclipse The Best Solar Viewpoints in the Smokies

The 2024 solar eclipse promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, offering viewers in the Smoky Mountains region a chance to witness the cosmos in action. Whether you’re planning to view the eclipse from a mountaintop vista or the comfort of your own cabin, be sure to prioritize safety and enjoy the awe-inspiring spectacle of nature’s grandeur. And if you’re still looking for the perfect accommodations for your eclipse adventure, look no further than Parkside Resort, where you can enjoy breath-taking views, regardless of the time of year or what’s happening way up in the sky!

2024 Solar Eclipse The Best Solar Viewpoints in the Smokies

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