Total solar eclipse offers rare opportunity for Aurora to shine

The final countdown has begun.
Though scientists have known for centuries that the skies over Hamilton County will go dark in the middle of the day on Aug. 21, 2017, the reality of what viewing a total solar eclipse really means is finally starting to sink in. This is a rare opportunity to have a front-row seat to such a natural phenomenon and also a huge logistical challenge, it turns out, to prepare for masses of people who MAY show up.
Dan Glomski, Aurora’s own “eclipse evangelist,” has been beating the drum for several months now, sharing his own experience of viewing a total solar eclipse from Aruba back in 1998 and explaining why he’s had this day circled on his calendar for years. The momentum has been building, thanks in large part to his bubbly enthusiasm, and a number of events are now being planned.
The Leadership Center will be Ground Zero for viewing a spectacle that will last approximately 2 minutes and 31 seconds. Thousands of spectators are expected to gather there and at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. Hampton has invited Nebraska astronaut Clayton to speak at an event there, and a number of activities are scheduled the weekend prior as well.
The fact that Hamilton County’s flat, unobstructed landscape lies almost smack dab in the middle of the eclipse path makes this an ideal viewing location. Folks from literally all over the world are planning to find a spot to watch the sun go dark just after high noon on that day, and there is good reason to believe thousands of them will land here. Some local residents are even offering their homes or extra rooms to guests through AirB&B invitations.
In hopes of shedding additional light on eclipse weekend events, the News-Register launches a series this week leading up to the Aug. 21 grand finale. We plan to delve into the science of it all, offer tips on how to safely view and photograph the event, talk to planners about parking and traffic flow logistics and much, much more.
Astronomers have calculated that the next time Hamilton County skies will grow dark beneath a total solar eclipse will be the year 2744, so this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event we won’t want to miss. It offers a rare window to view a scientific phenomenon and a unique opportunity to showcase our community.
Kurt Johnson

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