Eclipse: The sun, the moon and Barnwell County

Don't miss the solar eclipse on Aug. 21

  • This photo on NASA’s website shows the stages of a full eclipse. (Credit: Romeo Durscher)

On Monday, August 21, millions of people will be lifting their eyes to the skies to watch as the moon passes in front of the sun creating a solar eclipse.

South Carolina, including Barnwell County, is in the pathway of totality of the celestial event. Millions of people are expected to travel to the state this weekend through the event on Monday to watch the once-in-a-lifetime event.

The partial phase of the eclipse will start at approximately 1:13 p.m. on Monday, August 21. The total darkness phase will start the same day at approximately 2:43 p.m. and will last 32 seconds. Then it will return to the partial phase.

Planners are urging people to make sure they wear proper eyewear – approved eclipse glasses – to protect their eyes. Sunglasses are not safe for staring at the sun. Doing so can permanently damage vision.

Solar filters are also advised for cameras used to record the event.

Locally, schools are closing at 11 a.m. and two special events have been planned in the county for residents and visitors.

The Barnwell County Public Library will hold a “Solar Eclipse Viewing Party” in conjunction with the City of Barnwell on Monday, August 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Lemon Park to view the eclipse.

Eclipse glasses will be available to the first 300 participants.

Visit www.abbe-lib.org/barnwell for additional resources.

Barnwell State Park

Camping slots are completely booked out at Barnwell State Park this weekend but there will still be events for the general public to attend.

On Saturday, Aug. 19 at Barnwell State Park, the public is invited to come out and make “Solar Eclipse Survival Bracelets” with a park ranger.

They will be using paracord and UV reactive beads to make bracelets that will change colors in the sunlight and glow in the dark during the eclipse.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. at the picnic pads behind the park office. The cost is $5 per participant.

An evening hike is planned for Sunday, August 20 at 8 p.m. Participants will simulate the eclipse by taking an evening hike and see how wildlife may act during the eclipse. Meet at the park office at 8 p.m.

The evening hike is free.

On Monday, August 21 at noon, participants can make pinhole cameras with the park ranger.

The pinhole cameras can be used during the eclipse later that day.

All participants will receive solar eclipse glasses in addition to their cameras.

Participants need to meet at Shelter 4 at noon.

The cost is $5 per person.

After selling more than 150 eclipse glasses, the park restocked with 300 more, but they are now sold out again.

Barnwell State Park is located at 223 State Park Road, Blackville.

For more information, go to www.southcarolinaparks.com or email Barnwellsp@SCPRT.com or call (803) 284-2212.

Rivers Bridge Historic Site

Rivers Bridge State Historic Site in neighboring Bamberg County will have eclipse-related craft activities and ranger-led programs that all ages can enjoy. There will be an opportunity for most eclipse-related questions to be answered before, during, and after the eclipse event.

This is a free event. The site is located at 325 State Park Road, Ehrhardt (Bamberg County).

Activities will begin at 11 a.m. at the Community Building and then will move to the Memorial Grounds for viewing the eclipse at Rivers Bridge State Historic Site.

Viewing glasses will be available to purchase for $2 each. Refreshments will be served during activities for all participants.

Travel advisory

Residents and travelers are advised to plan well in advance where they will be for the solar eclipse.

“We don’t want people pulling off the side of the road, especially on an interstate, and being run over or sideswiped by another vehicle,” said Barnwell County Emergency Management Director Roger Riley.

On Monday, traffic throughout South Carolina is expected to be snarled. “Imagine all the stadiums in the United States releasing fans after a sold-out football game, all at the same and all in South Carolina – that’s what it’s going to seem like,” said Riley.

Emergency planners are determining the best routes to hospitals and other emergency response during and after the event.

Additionally, AAA offers the following driving safety tips during this unusual period of daytime low-light driving:

• Turn on your headlights well before the eclipse to help you be more visible to drivers and improve your visibility.

• Reduce speed so you'll have more time to make an emergency maneuver.

• Watch out for pedestrians! There may be people standing in or along roadways and streets watching the eclipse.

• Be a defensive driver. Be especially aware of the possibility of nearby drivers swerving into your lane.

• Do not attempt to watch the solar eclipse when driving. (Get to your viewing location well in advance of the eclipse)

• Don't depend only on cell phones for navigation. Cell towers could be bogged down and coverage could be spotty in some areas. Visit your local AAA location for maps (free to members).

• Make sure you have a full tank of gas, first aid kit, water and any necessary medication, should you get stuck in traffic.

• Follow Department of Transportation (DOT) for info on roads, routes and closures

NASA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a large variety of resources which can viewed online.

Go to https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov for static and interactive resources on the eclipse.