17 For ’17: The Great American Eclipse

The Abott family tests out their eclipse glasses before the 2017 eclipse at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Kennesaw.
Credit Al Such / WABE

WABE News is looking back at the top 17 news stories in 2017. 

The total solar eclipse that crossed the United States in August brought merchandising and shopping opportunities, a run on hotel rooms, internet-induced panic and lots and lots of traffic.

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Oh, and then there was the thing itself: If you were in the right place, a moment of complete darkness, a pause in a crazy year as the sun and the moon and the earth aligned, and we all could just sit back in awe.

While the eclipse was partial in Atlanta, in the northeast corner of Georgia, up in Rabun and Union Counties, it was total. Towns up there – like places across the country in the path of the total eclipse – prepared for masses of eclipse-mad tourists.

Local stores carried handmade eclipse tchotchkes. Chambers of commerce distributed eclipse glasses. Emergency managers prepared for whatever stupid things people might come up with to do with their Monday in search of the best eclipse viewing spot.

In the weeks leading up to the eclipse, there were suddenly rumors that some eclipse glasses purchased on Amazon weren’t really safe. Amazon issued recalls, which seemed to confuse people even more.

People piled into cars and set off for their eclipse destinations. In tiny Dillard, Georgia, visitors from Florida, Ohio, New York, Mississippi and Louisiana gathered in a field, ready for the event.

As the eclipse began, clouds started to move in. Some people ran to find somewhere less cloudy. But for the people who stayed put in the field next to Dillard City Hall, it paid off. Just moments before totality, the clouds opened up. The crowd in the field cheered.

Then, the temperature dropped. The earth’s shadow blacked out the sun. The sky turned dark. People screamed, or laughed, or just sat in stunned silence. Dogs cried. The cicadas came out.

And when the sun came back, the crowd cheered again.

Then we all piled back into our cars, and sat in hours of traffic.

The next total eclipse in the United States is in 2024. It won’t be total in Georgia, so go ahead and buy plane tickets and reserve hotel rooms.