Asheville is within easy day-trip distance to one of the few areas in the United States that will have the rare opportunity to see a total solar eclipse this August. The 2017 eclipse marks the first time in nearly 40 years (not since 1979) that a total solar eclipse will be seen in the continental United States.
For areas within the narrow path of “totality” (100% eclipse), 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) at approximately 2:35 p.m. EDT.
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 glasses or goggles with a built-in solar filter. There are many resources online with instructions for safe viewing of the solar eclipse including this page from the American Astronomical Society.
As the largest city near the path of totality in Western North Carolina, Asheville is a convenient home base for your solar eclipse 2017 adventure.
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.
Asheville’s location in the Blue Ridge Mountains not only makes it well-positioned for enjoying the solar eclipse but also for incredible stargazing leading up to the event. 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.
While in town, you’ll be in the midst of 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 the nearly 30 breweries, or explore Biltmore, America’s largest home.
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; eclips glasses by Paul Deans / TravelQuest International.