Great Smoky Mountains National Park to hold solar eclipse event

GATLINBURG (WATE) – At 6,643 feet in elevation, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a spot the National Park Service says will show a unique view of the total solar eclipse.

According to NASA, on August 21, 2017, Tennessee will get to see the moon block the light from the sun. The totality of the eclipse is expected to last just under two minutes, meaning there will be two minutes of darkness.

Related: Tennessee will see something it hasn’t in over 500 years: A total solar eclipse

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is hosting a special ticketed event at Clingmans Dome and two informal viewing events at Cades Cove and Ocanaluftee. They are partnering with NASA, Southwestern Community College and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to provide a special program with featured speakers and storytellers and explain the science and culture connection to Clingmans Dome.

The park will close Clingmans Dome to public vehicle traffic and allow 1,325 ticketed participants view the eclipse. The National Park says the parking area will be converted into the special event site that will include a jumbotron screen for participating in a national NASA TV broadcast, telescopes, educational exhibits, and stage for special featured speakers.

“We are thrilled that the park lies within the narrow viewing band of this spectacular, natural phenomena,” said Deputy Superintendent Clay Jordan. “I have great memories of the time I experienced a partial solar eclipse as a child and I am thrilled to view my first total eclipse from the top of the Smokies in the company of a passionate group of visitors.”

Beginning on March 1, tickets will be available for purchase on a first come first serve basis through Recreation.gov for $30.00 each. You must have a ticket to attend the event at Clingmans Dome. Participants will be shuttled to the site from Gatlinburg and Cherokee, North Carolina by coach bus.

The Clingmans Dome tower itself will be reserved for the media and live broadcasting teams to share the experience with the widest audience possible. Special presentations and activities will take place during the approximately three-hour period in the afternoon when the sun will be partially and, for a brief time, totally obscured by the moon.

For more information about the solar eclipse events, please call the information line at 865-436-1585 or visit the park website.

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