Chamber of Commerce plans lights-out lunch

Published 9:20 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

That scorching yellow orb that brightens our days will be dark for a while Monday, and the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce is planning a party to celebrate the spectacular, historic event.

A total solar eclipse will sweep across the continental United States Monday for the first time in nearly 100 years.

The path of totality — where day briefly becomes night — will pass over Oregon, continuing through the heartland all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. Those on the outskirts — well into Canada, Central America and even the top of South America — will be treated to a partial eclipse.

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That’s us. We won’t get the full effect of a total eclipse — our view in Brookhaven will include a sliver of sun peeking out from behind the moon — but it will still be a momentous occasion and a pretty cool reason to celebrate.

The last time a total solar eclipse swept the whole width of the U.S. was in 1918.

“It’s rare in this area,” said Chamber Program Director Katie Nations.

Since the solar eclipse will occur at lunchtime, Chamber President Sha Walker suggested a common gathering spot for downtown merchants and customers to watch the eclipse and eat lunch.

The Chamber is hosting a “Solar Eclipse Lunch” from 11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Railroad Park.

“We just wanted to do something a little different,” Nations said.

They’ll have a tent set up next to the Foster Cabin across from the Chamber on South Whitworth Avenue.

“Since everybody is going to be outside looking at it, the Chamber wanted the business community to come bring their lunch and socialize,” Walker said.

The Chamber will provide tea and water and suggests those who want to attend should grab take-out from a restaurant and bring a lawn chair or blanket.

Eclipse viewing glasses are a must to prevent scorched eyeballs and burnt retinas. Blindness is possible and probable from looking directly at the sun, NASA said.

The Chamber will have some glasses to share, Walker said, but encourages individuals to bring their own if possible.

Eclipse glasses are available for purchase online and at some Lincoln County retailers. Walmart has them for sale in the school supply section.

While the moon will at least partially block the sun for the entire nation, the glowing crescent left behind will still emit ultraviolet rays, the same wavelength of light that causes sunburn.

The only safe time to look at the solar eclipse with the naked eye, according to NASA, is during totality, where the moon’s fullest, darkest umbral shadow touches. Tennessee is the closest spot to us for that view.