An uncanny and uncommon natural occurrence is coming to Franklin next summer.
A total solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and the moon fully blocks the sun, will occur locally on Aug. 21, 2017.
Total solar eclipses occur every 1-2 years, but are only visible from less than one- half of a percent of the Earth's surface. Next summer, the eclipse will be visible across a diagonal line of the U.S. spanning approximately 75 miles wide and moving southeast from Oregon to South Carolina. This area's "path of totality," according to Dr. Gordon Emslie, a Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Western Kentucky University, will span from Bowling Green around Exit 26 south to Franklin, Tennessee. Outside of that window, the total eclipse will not be visible. Though the duration of the experience within that window will vary by 10-20 seconds, the eclipse will be visible for about 2 minutes, 30 seconds. In Franklin, the total eclipse will take place from 1:26:52 p.m. to 1:29:18 p.m. It will be moving approximately 1,600 miles per hour.
During the total eclipse, several natural extremes will occur at once. First, the entire sky will become dark. The sun's light will be totally obscured by the moon, which will cause a darkness to fall throughout Franklin. At the same time, the temperature will drop and the wind will consequently pick up. Much of the experience, though, said Emslie, who spoke to the Franklin Rotary Club on Nov. 3, is indescribable.
"No photograph can do justice to this thing compared to what the human eye sees," he said. "If you've never seen one, nothing can really prepare you for it."
Emslie did say that taking video of the event "will be pretty cool," and that viewers should be able to see other planets and stars if it isn't too cloudy. For once, viewers can also look directly at the sun, he said.
The total eclipse here in Franklin will be witnessed by more than just locals. Joanna Drake of the Simpson County Tourism Commission says that every Franklin hotel is already sold out for the spectacle.
"This will be a bigger event than you could possibly realize in your wildest dreams, and this could be a good thing," said Emslie.
The Simpson County Tourism Commission will be holding a special event at the Franklin Drive-In for the eclipse. There will be live music and the eclipse will be displayed on a large screen. A happy hour will follow at The Brickyard Café, where witnesses can share photos, videos and experiences.