Total Solar Eclipse - Web Extra
A super celestial event this summer shines an international spotlight squarely on Nebraska. Actually, the tens of thousands of stargazers from around the world looking up at the Nebraska sky on Aug. 21 would prefer that the light switch off for a few minutes. Experts are predicting a 74-percent chance of clear skies for Nebraska’s first total eclipse since 1954. Communities in and near the path of totality – the narrow band where viewers will see the moon completely obscure the sun, except for its brilliant corona – are planning viewing parties and special events. Our forecast calls for fun no matter the weather.
Dannebrog’s four-day eclipse festival is an official Nebraska Sesquicentennial event. Joining the festivities are members of the Pawnee tribe, returning to their homeland for the occasion. In addition to Pawnee drum performances and eclipse viewing on Dannebrog’s 47-acre site, events include a car show, street dance, craft fair, quilt show, Danish buffet and more.
The slogan “Come get mooned in Beatrice and Gage County” puts a humorous spin on events in Beatrice, Virginia, Blue Springs and Homestead National Monument of America. In nearby Wymore a watermelon feed will commence once the moon gives way to the sun. Yum! Wine tasting and a chicken barbecue are highlights of the Aug. 19 celebration in Adams.
If you find the Pickrell post office you’re right across the street from the park where the Junk Pink’N, Band and Beer in the Park event is taking place. The name says it all, and the event runs from 10 am to 6 pm in Pickrell. Prairie Loft Center for Outdoor and Agricultural Learning in Hastings invites families to bring picnics, safely observe the eclipse and learn how it affects plants and animals. The thought of being in the dark side of the moon’s shadow for 2 minutes and 14 seconds has organizers in Hastings starry-eyed. SolFest is a solar eclipse-inspired four-day festival full of music, food, beer, laughter and memories. The event blasts off with the SolFest Gala on Friday, Aug. 18 with Nebraska native NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson as the keynote speaker. A music festival in Brickyard Park, Hear Nebraska’s Good Living Tour, a downtown Hastings art festival and more keep the fun flowing until eclipse day when the community partners with The Crane Trust for access to a scenic viewing location unlike any other. www.neclipse17.com/where-to-watch/hastings.
Members of The Nature Conservancy can avoid crowds and experience the eclipse among wildflower-filled prairies near the Platte River in central Nebraska.
The Learning Center is one of several viewing sites in Aurora. Dan Glomski works nearby at Edgerton Explorit Center. His business card reads “Mad Scientist,” and he might be mad if clouds prevail, but if skies are clear he’ll be at the Learning Center narrating the eclipse over a loud speaker in an exciting cosmic play-by-play.
NASA trades Cape Canaveral for Grand Island on Aug. 21 to release an observation balloon at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. Ten thousand pairs of protective glasses are available and viewing is encouraged across Stuhr’s 206 acres. The Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center near Wood River has scheduled an eclipse expert to speak at 10 am on Aug. 21. A bison burger barbecue will flame up before the sun goes dark. A special souvenir bundle includes a T-shirt, lunch and more. www.cranetrust.org/events/total-solar-eclipse.
Kearney makes the most of its 1 min and 54 seconds of totality with events shining across five days. Astronaut Mike Fincke will drop in at the Kearney Children’s Museum at 6:15 pm on Aug. 17 to talk about the cosmos. A Q&A session, autographs and photo ops will help make this pre-eclipse event full of fun memories. Eclipse early birds are invited to Rowe Sanctuary on Aug. 19 to cool off in the Platte River from 10 am to 4 pm. The Black Out on the Bricks event runs Aug. 19 through 21 in downtown Kearney’s brick street shopping district where participating businesses will offer special deals.
On Aug. 19 from 11 am to 10 pm the Solar Eclipse Concert Series takes place at the Viaero Event Center. Food trucks and other vendors will park downtown for the Kearney Night Market on Aug. 20. At 7 pm that evening astronomer Tabetha Boyajian will speak at the Merryman Performing Arts Center. Boyajian is known as a planet hunter. Is light from the distant star KIC8462852 being blocked by comet dust? Or, by an alien-built megastructure as has been suggested by a colleague? Boyajian will shed light on the cosmic mystery.
Eclipse viewing sites at Kearney include The Archway, Yanney Park, Viaero Event Center, Buffalo County Fairgrounds and Cottonmill Lake State Recreation Area. The University of Nebraska at Kearney Planetarium is accepting reservations, and other Kearney events include lectures, running and walking events, bicycling, kayaking and more.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Cope Stadium will host a watch party from 11 am to 2 pm on eclipse day, Aug. 21. There will be games, music and other live entertainment. The first 10,000 people can get their eclipse viewing glasses here. With more than 1,700 hotel rooms, as well as camp sites at Fort Kearny State Historical Park and the Kearney RV Park and Campground, Kearney is set to be an eclipse-viewing hotspot. There are many more scheduled activities. Refer to the websites at the end of this segment for websites loaded with additional information. Kearney and Ravenna are teaming up with a long list of eclipse events at www.solareclipseravenna.com. Kearney eclipse information can also be found at www.visitkearney.org/2017-total-solar-eclipse.
Ravenna will host entertainment, food, drink and souvenirs at the community baseball fields on Aug. 19 and 20. Reserved tickets are also on sale to watch the eclipse from these prime viewing locations on Aug. 21. Totality in Ravenna will be 2 minutes and 35 seconds. A 5K run, volleyball tournament, music festival, beer garden, parade, golf tournament, cruise night, scavenger hunt and trap shooting are some of the events planned for Ravenna. Buffalo County Lake, just east of Ravenna, is a popular camping spot. Information is continually being added to the www.solareclipseravenna.com website. Check back often for updated information on Kearney and Ravenna events.
Cedar Hills Vineyard, near Ravenna, has events planned Aug. 17 through Aug. 21. Most are open to the public, but reservations are needed for the special eclipse package on Aug. 21. Cedar Hills’ special Dark of Day wine will be released starting on Aug. 17. www.cedarhillsvineyard.com/2017-total-solar-eclipse.
St. Paul, the “Historic Baseball Capital of Nebraska,” honors another lofty sphere on Aug. 21. A viewing party unlike any other is planned at Miletta Vista Winery just north of town on Highway 281. Two eclipse viewing packages are available. T-shirts, eclipse viewing glasses and a special release of Black Sun sweet red table wine are some of the perks of this homerun offer. Both packages offer scenic views of the Loup River Valley, and a place in line at Chef Michael’s summer picnic buffet. http://milettavistawinery.com/eclipse-viewing-party.
The 2017 total eclipse of the heartland also includes Omaha. The visitomaha.com website includes a link to their special Solar Eclipse Omaha Package which includes airport shuttle, two nights accommodations, breakfast, admission to Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, eclipse glasses and a box lunch. www.visitomaha.com/eclipse.
There is a game scheduled in Haymarket Park in Lincoln during the eclipse. No worries though, an eclipse delay is already planned. Visitors are invited to watch the eclipse from this location with the city of Lincoln as a backdrop. Souvenir T-shirts and other Nebraska Eclipse 2017 items will be for sale, and many restaurants, galleries, breweries and other attractions are within short walking distance. More family fun is still in the planning stages. Check the Nebraska eclipse website for the most current information. www.neclipse17.com/where-to-watch/lincoln.
The chambers of commerce from Crete and Wilber are teaming up for the Saline Solar Show Aug. 18-21. Live bands, beer gardens, Pork in the Park, a kid’s carnival, farmers market and much more are planned. On Aug. 19, the Crete Volunteer Fire Dept. will flip flapjacks for their annual pancake feed. The firefighters in Crete return the flavorful favor the following morning. The Armory and Armory Park in Crete is a viewing site in the community with a solar eclipse totality of 2 minutes and 26 seconds. Wilber gets 10 more seconds in the shade where eclipse viewers can peer up through their special glasses from the American Legion baseball fields and the ice skating rink. www.wilberchamberofcommerce.com/calendar/saline-solar-shadow.
Pawnee County has eclipse viewing sites in pastures near Table Rock and Lewiston, one near the Heritage House in Steinauer and at the Pawnee City Golf Course. Amenities vary at each site. Stargazing, community breakfasts, a walking tour, storytelling and more are planned. Reserved eclipse-viewing tickets can be purchased at www.pawneecountynebraska.com/2017-eclipse.
Lucky students at Concordia University in Seward get to skip class for the eclipse. The school invites everyone to visit Bulldog Stadium and the surrounding area for free eclipse viewing. Some picnic tables will be available. Visitors are welcome to bring blankets and chairs.
The community gets in on the act with viewing sites or activities at the Seward Memorial Library, Red Path Gallery’s east location, Bottle Rocket Brewing Co., the Nebraska National Guard Museum, Junto Winery and Seward’s historic downtown square. Check out www.Sewardeclipse.com to learn more.
Hitting a hole-in-one becomes even more difficult in Geneva when the course goes dark during the Eclipse Golf Tournament for Seniors. The $50 team fee includes lunch. No greens fees will be charged. Registration begins at 8 am. Golfers must be age 55 or older. (402) 759-3084.
York County joins the astronomical action with viewing parties at Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park and near Interstate 80 at Wessels Living History Farm. South of York at Ohiowa, Lazy Horse Brewing and Winery toasts the eclipse with food and drink specials, commemorative T-shirts, eclipse viewing from the deck and much more.
The sipping of solar suds continues to North Platte at Nebraska’s newest brewery. Eclipse day begins at 8 a.m. at Pal’s Brewing Co., with moon-mosas and yoga. Then NebraskaLand National Bank grills up brunch beginning at 9 a.m. Totality starts over North Platte at 12:54 p.m. Two minutes later Pals plans a special tapping of their Solar Sun Ale. Music, a beanbag tournament and other events fill the day.
A lengthy totality of 1 minute 40 seconds, more than 60 restaurants, 1,200 hotel rooms and plenty of Nebraska hospitality make North Platte a convenient eclipse HQ. On Sunday and Monday buses run from North Platte to Tryon and back all day. The tiny Sandhills town of 150 residents has big things in mind for the eclipse, and there is a big reason why: Tryon will experience one of the longest totalities in the state. Darkness will reign for 2 minutes 33 seconds. Even those uninterested in cosmic phenomena might want to stock up on raffle tickets for a chance at the one-of-a-kind Eclipse in the Sandhills quilt created by locals Elnora Neal, Rochelle Kemp, Joyce Snyder and Kathleen Fisher.
Stapleton falls under the umbral shadow for more than 2 minutes 30 seconds. The community kicks off five days of fun with team roping and steer wrestling at the Logan County Fairgrounds on Thursday evening.
Thedford Public School students will fill yellow buses and field trip to the Licking Ranch near Stapleton in Logan County for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. This unofficial outdoor classroom is sure to provide a learning experience that comes around only once in a lifetime and that only the Nebraska Sandhills can provide. Grilled hamburgers and hotdogs as totality approaches will add to the solar enjoyment.
Sutherland has a contingency plan: If clouds form, they’ll broadcast a NASA feed of the eclipse live on a giant screen TV in the Sutherland American Legion Hall. A pulled pork lunch will be served here rain or shine. Organizers invite people to bring their own coolers with beverages of choice, and to please RSVP to (308) 386-2468 ext. 10 for your spot in Sutherland’s 2 minutes of totality.
The annual Heritage Days celebration in Maxwell isn’t getting eclipsed by the total solar eclipse, it is the other way around! Events beginning on Aug. 18 include live music, a bratwurst feed in Brittenham Park, Heritage Days barbecues, a parade, demolition derby and more. (308) 582-4324.
The Broken Bow NE150 Drive gets up to speed on July 6 and encourages visitors to see the scenic stars of Custer County’s landscape along a 150-mile backroad adventure. Participants take selfies at specific locations and enter them for a chance to win $500. The winner is announced on eclipse day Aug. 21 at the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway’s red barn visitor center on Broken Bow’s eastern edge. Golf tournaments, a 5K walk/run, street dance, chicken wing eating contest, antique tractor display, outdoor movies at the Custer County Fairgrounds, downtown shopping specials and more are planned for Aug. 18-21.
Another Custer County party is set to shine from the hills near Callaway on Ryno Road. Pasture music will echo through the valleys at the Cornstock Total Eclipse Party & Music Festival on Aug. 19 and 20. There will be karaoke and other entertainment, too. Camping spots are available. Eclipse viewing will take place on Aug. 21. Planning is still underway for this fun event. Check their Facebook page for the latest details. www.facebook.com/events/121579358443321/
The High Plains Homestead’s Burgers and Beer Cookout north of Crawford on “Eclipse Eve” adds a flavorful wood-fired flare to eclipse activities in Western Nebraska. The Longhorn Bar in Harrison will be serving Longhorn burgers during the eclipse weekend. Vendors will sell a variety of items on Aug. 20 and 21. Camping is available nearby. Many people plan to watch the eclipse from the Gilbert-Baker Wildlife Management Area north of town.
Sidney rests outside of the totality band, but Andrew “Sherm” Sherman still expects a good show. He’s the director of the town library and has 1,000 pairs of solar glasses for local elementary students. The public is invited, too.
Where better to observe celestial phenomenon than the home of Carhenge? Alliance is on the centerline and has been planning for the stellar show for years. The carhenge-solareclipse2017.com website reminds modern-day druids and others that the entire United States will experience a partial eclipse on Aug. 21. It goes on to say, “A partial eclipse is like standing outside the restaurant smelling the steak on the grill – while a total eclipse is like actually eating the Nebraska beef!”
Box Butte County, including Hemingford, offers more than 20 camping and viewing sites. Activities during the four-day celebration include a portable planetarium show at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center, a Native American powwow in Central Park, other entertainment, vendors, motocross races and more.
The Rushville Chamber of Commerce is hosting “Preclipse to the Eclipse” on Sunday, Aug. 20 at the Sand Ridge Golf Course in Rushville starting at 6 pm. Live music, other entertainment, food and telescope stargazing will make this a fun event for the entire family. Smith Lake 25, miles south of Rushville, will serve as the location of an eclipse viewing party the following day. A hotdog lunch, poker run and activities are planned. (308) 327-2915.
Gering and Scottsbluff are planning for four days of eclipse fun beginning at quitting time, 5 pm, on Aug. 18 when the “Moon Over the Monument” begins in downtown Gering. This exploration of dining, drinks and downtown sets the stage for the weekend. Special events are planned at Scotts Bluff National Monument, Legacy of the Plains Museum, Riverside Discovery Center and Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. The 18th Street Plaza in downtown Scottsbluff will be bustling during the Best of the West Eclipse Beer & Wine Festival. The Mitchell Public Library (in Mitchell) is hosting an eclipse viewing party with free eclipse viewers for the first 50 attendees, and with moon cake and solar punch being served. For a complete list of Scotts Bluff County solar fun visit www.neclipse17.com/where-to-watch/gering or www.neclipse17.com/where-to-watch/scottsbluff.
On a day when Nebraska farmers might typically pray for a mid-summer rain, Nebraskans hope to be blessed with a few minutes of clear skies when day turns to night in the Cornhusker State.