Asheville, North Carolina, is just a short drive away from this summer's most stunning natural phenomenon. Western N.C. is one of the few areas in the United States that will see a total solar eclipse this August. The 2017 event marks the first time since 1979 that a total solar eclipse will be visible in the continental U.S.
Asheville is the ideal base camp for all the weekend's eclipse-viewing activities. Check out our list of places to see the eclipse. And find a place to stay during the eclipse to be close to all the action.
In a solar eclipse, the moon passes directly between the sun and the earth. The moon casts a shadow that moves across the earth's surface creating a "path of totality."
For areas within this narrow path, the air will cool as complete darkness falls in the middle of the day for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The moon will block the sun, revealing the sun’s rarely seen shimmering corona or “crown.”
Asheville will experience a 99% eclipse at approximately 2:37 p.m. EDT on August 21, 2017. The path of the totality passes through nearby Jackson, Swain, and Graham counties (about 50-70 miles from Asheville). In these areas, the eclipse will reach totality at approximately 2:35 p.m. EDT.
Changes in the sky will begin around 1 p.m. and extend through 4 p.m. It is recommended you arrive at your eclipse viewing location by noon.
During totality is the only time it is safe to look at the sun with the naked eye. The only safe way to look at the uneclipsed or partially-eclipsed sun is through special glasses or goggles with a built-in solar filter.
Several online resources offer instructions for safe viewing of the solar eclipse, including this page from the American Astronomical Society. Many official eclipse events will provide eclipse glasses for viewers.
For those looking to buy eclipse glasses, the following places still had a supply of glasses as of August 17:
- Diamond Brand Outdoors, 1378 Hendersonville Rd. $5 each.
- aSHEville Museum, 35 Wall Street, $5 each.
Asheville is the largest city near the path of totality in Western North Carolina. The city is convenient to areas that will experience the eclipse and a great destination to spend the weekend of August 18-20.
Named Lonely Planet’s top destination to visit this year, Asheville provides a wide range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to bed & breakfasts to cabins. With many people expected to travel to the area for the 2017 solar eclipse in North Carolina, it’s important to book early. Find a place to stay in Asheville during the solar eclipse.
While in town, you’ll be amidst one of the nation’s top cultural, culinary, and music scenes. Stroll the streets of the booming downtown, cool off with a drink at one of nearly 30 breweries, or explore Biltmore, America’s largest home.
On the day of the eclipse (August 21), from noon-3 p.m., the Asheville Museum of Science, UNC Asheville and Asheville City Schools co-host Asheville's Solar Eclipse Festival in Pack Square Park. Enjoy fun, eclipse-related activities, including food, music and games for the whole family.
Asheville’s location in the Blue Ridge Mountains makes it ideal for enjoying incredible stargazing any time of the year. Star Watch Night Vision Tours treats visitors to spectacular views of the night sky using Alpha Generation 3 Military-Issue Night Vision Goggles. Or, join in a public stargaze at the Lookout Observatory -- operated as a partnership between the University of North Carolina at Asheville and the Astronomy Club of Asheville.
Photo credits: Total solar eclipse sequence by Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel; map of the path of totality of the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse in North Carolina by Michael Zeiler / GreatAmericanEclipse.com; eclipse glasses by Paul Deans / TravelQuest International.