In real estate, it’s all about location. It’s the same for Monday’s total solar eclipse. You will want to be where you can experience the total eclipse of the sun.
Total as in 100 percent. Darkness. And if weather permits — a clear sky or as few clouds as possible at 1:29 p.m. Aug. 21 in Murfreesboro — you’ll be able to see stars you normally don’t see this time of year, as well as planets.
Middle Tennessee State University Department of Physics and Astronomy professor John Wallin and his colleagues said people wanting to observe the total eclipse must be east and north of Interstate 24 for the best view. MTSU, with its Great Tennessee Eclipse official NASA viewing event from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., is a viable option.
The coast-to-coast, Oregon to South Carolina eclipse is the buzz of the nation and astronomy world. It has been more than 500 years since the last total eclipse of the sun crossed Murfreesboro and Rutherford County and will be 500-plus years before the next.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon casts a shadow on Earth, blocking the sun’s light in some areas. Observers within the path of totality, or total eclipse, will be able to view the sun’s corona. Observers outside the path will view a partial eclipse.
“Just 1 percent difference is not the same,” said Wallin. “It’ll get darkish, but it’s not nearly the same as a total eclipse. The difference here is just a few miles.”
MTSU’s event, which will be in the green space along the Science Corridor of Innovation on campus, will receive about 1 minute, 5 seconds of total eclipse.
For those planning to attend, a printable map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. The event and parking in designated areas are free.
Across I-24 at the AMC Murfreesboro 16 movie theater or Sam’s Club, there might be 30 seconds of total eclipse. Further west, Blackman High School may get a few seconds or no total eclipse. Wallin and colleagues say Riverdale High School and Barfield Park’s Wilderness Station will have zero total eclipse.
The “haves,” or areas with total eclipse, include Woodbury, La Vergne, Smyrna, Lascassas, Milton, McMinnville, Brentwood, Lebanon, Watertown and other towns east and north of I-24.
The “have-nots,” or areas that won’t see a total eclipse, include Rockvale, Eagleville, Christiana, Shelbyville, Lynchburg, Tullahoma, Manchester, Franklin, Spring Hill, Columbia and other communities south and west of I-24.
As a high school student in Hibbing, Minnesota, Wallin and his astronomy club drove more than 325 miles one way to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to view a total eclipse. It was minus-15 degrees and the temperature plummeted further, but he never forgot the experience.
“This is different from any eclipse you’ve ever seen,” Wallin said. “A lot of people, if they don’t drive a few miles, are going to miss it.”
Wallin suggests people “get a Google eclipse map, make a plan and come to MTSU.”
In addition to 3,000 to 4,000 combined Murfreesboro City and Rutherford County schools students coming to MTSU, nearly 140 University of Alabama-Huntsville students in three buses, students from a Florence, Alabama, high school and another school group in Tennessee plan to attend the MTSU event.
A panel of astronomy experts will discuss the eclipse starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, in Science Building Room 1006. The public is invited.
Physics and astronomy is one of 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
For more information, call 615-898-2130 or visit www.mtsu.edu/eclipse.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)