Sycamore Shoals to host special program for the eclipse

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

For those wanting to enjoy the solar eclipse next week without the hassle of congested roadways, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is inviting visitors to join them for a fun-filled afternoon of history and natural phenomenon.

The Park will celebrate “The Great American Eclipse” on Monday, August 21 from Noon until 4 p.m.

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“We will be giving away 125 pairs of the solar eclipse viewing glass to the first 125 visitors,” said Park Historic Interpreter Chad Bogart.

The park will also have activity stations set up for visitors to make eclipse viewing devices out of paper plates.

“That way you can safely view the eclipse without looking at the sun,” Bogart said.

The eclipse starts locally around 1:08 p.m. At 1:15, Bogart will lead a program dealing with how those living in the late 1700s would have responded to an eclipse.

“There are quite a few historical documents that talk about eclipses,” Bogart said.

During the program, Bogart will also discuss some of the Cherokee legend surrounding eclipses, what the Cherokee believed to be happening and how they responded.

Bogart will also talk about something which links Sycamore Shoals to outer space.

“Here at the Park we have our own connection with the celestial bodies with our Moon Tree,” Bogart said. “During the Appolo missions to the moon, they took a number of tree seeds into space.”

While the seeds never actually landed on the surface of the moon, they did orbit it for a while.

After returning to earth, the seeds were taken and planted. When they sprouted into seedlings, the trees were sent to different locations across the country, with one of them finding a home at Sycamore Shoals State Park, where it still lives to this day.

“It was planted by Gov. Ray Blanton when the park was opened in 1976,” Bogart said.

The local maximum obscurity of the eclipse is predicted to occur at 2:37 p.m.

“We’re not going to be under a total eclipse here, we’re going to be around 97 percent,” Bogart said.

After the maximum obscurity, Bogart said the program will be over, but visitors can remain at the park to watch the waning of the eclipse, which is expected to conclude around 4 p.m.

While the park has a limited number of viewing glasses staff will hand out, Bogart cautioned those who may purchase glasses at other locations to bring with them.

“We do definitely want to emphasize the safety of viewing the eclipse,” Bogart said, adding the eclipse should only be viewed through the proper glasses. “Make sure the number on your eclipse glasses is ISO12312-2.”