Brown County, Kansas, is preparing for the event of a lifetime — a total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.
Deemed the Brown County Blackout 08.21.2017, the event promises more than solar activity as people from all over the world are traveling to the area for a view of something that hasn’t been experienced since June 18, 1918, according to retired astrophysicist Fred Espenak. It is not expected to occur again until 2045.
According to NASA visualizer and media specialist Ernest Wright, the duration of totality of the eclipse, the length of the time the moon will fully overshadow the sun, will be 2 minutes and 34 seconds in Hiawatha, beginning at 1:04.58 p.m.
Deidra Leander, director of the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau, is also on the Visitor’s Bureau Solar Eclipse Committee. She said plans are underway for a variety of events that will add to the phenomenon in the sky.
She said the committee will be implementing an event to accommodate the influx of people expected to travel to Hiawatha.
“While planning and logistics are in full swing, there is much to be determined,” she said. “Our goal at this time is to have a live band, food, a beer garden and multiple viewing areas, with the event taking place between the Fisher Community Center and Noble Field.”
The band performing will be the Kelly Blue Band out of Kansas City. Leander said times for the one-day event will span from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with a lot more information on activities yet to come.
In addition to events planned by the Solar Eclipse Committee, the Hiawatha High School Astronomy Club has plans to host an observation event on the day of the eclipse, according to Nolan Sump, sponsor of the club. Students and staff from the high school and middle school, as well as community members, are invited to the school’s football practice field for an eclipse watch, beginning at approximately 12:45 p.m. on that day.
Other area communities are planning their solar eclipse events and looking at expanding accommodations for visitors. Benedictine College in Atchison will host two Vatican Observatory astronomers, who will offer astronomy lectures. The college also is planning to build a small observatory to be dedicated on that day, according to the school’s website.