Partnership Planning for 2017 Total Solar Eclipse in Grand Island

Organizations in and around Grand Island are partnering to plan for the upcoming August 21, 2017 total eclipse that will be visible from the area. Current partners include the Grand Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Edgerton Explorit Center of Aurora, the Aurora Area Chamber & Development Corporation and the NASA Space Grant Program of Omaha.

Total solar eclipses are extremely rare events. The last visible from the Grand Island area occurred in the year 1194, and the next won’t be until the year 2744. In fact, there hasn’t been a total solar eclipse witnessed in the continental United States since 1979 and won’t be another until 2024. The 2017 total solar eclipse is also unique in that its path will cross the entire country, from Oregon to South Carolina. The last total eclipse to cross the nation from west to east was in 1918.

"Total solar eclipses are one of nature's rarest, shortest-lived and most spectacular sights," says Edgerton Explorit Center Educator Dan Glomski. "Most times if you want to see one of these, you have to travel great distances, even to places like Siberia and the high Arctic. Then you run the risk of getting clouded out. But a total eclipse is so spectacular that thousands of people will take the chance."

"This time, one literally arrives at our doorstep."

Total solar eclipses are much more spectacular events than more commonly-seen partial solar eclipses. The most spectacular eclipse phenomena (corona, surrounding twilight, etc) happen only when the Moon completely covers the Sun.

"There is no comparison between a partial and a total eclipse of the Sun," Glomski says.

Grand Island is one of the best places in the country to witness the eclipse; as many as 50,000 people could visit the area during this time. With more than two-and-a-half minutes of totality, Grand Island is within four seconds of the longest eclipse duration anywhere in the country. Central Nebraska also offers very good chances for sunny summer skies; odds of clear viewing from Grand Island are 70-75%.

Some local hotels have already received phone calls from people seeking to book a room for the event. The partnership is working to create viewing opportunities and educational programs surrounding the eclipse, including public viewing sites at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island and The Leadership Center in Aurora, an Eclipse Extravaganza at the Edgerton Center, a portable planetarium that will travel throughout the state, a nighttime star party, and more.

For more information, follow the group at Facebook.com/2017Totality and Twitter.com/2017totality or contact Dan Glomski at dan@edgerton.org or 402-694-4032.