By Terri Johnson, Editor, Kentucky City
A publication of the Kentucky League of Cities/KPA Associates Division Member
City will host The Vatican’s Observatory Director, NASA officials and NASA broadcast truck
You may know by now that on August 21, 2017, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, will, quite literally, be the center of the astronomical universe. Designated by NASA and scientists worldwide as the “point of greatest eclipse” for the North American solar eclipse, the city and region expect thousands – maybe up to 50,000 – visitors to see the total eclipse of the sun from Hopkinsville. The last total eclipse of the entire United States was 99 years ago.
“Point of greatest eclipse” means that Hopkinsville is the point at which the axis of the moon’s shadow passes closet to the earth. Hopkinsville spectators will get the best view of the full corona for the longest duration of time.
The city is ready – and its leaders believe they are as prepared as they can be for this upcoming attention – strategically promoting the city and region to people from around the globe. They’re marketing to not only eclipse enthusiasts and international media but others as well. They’ve invited renowned “celebrity” astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson and even the cast of The Big Bang Theory TV sitcom. The goal is to get as much out of the eclipse as the community will undoubtedly give and the realities of the world-wide spotlight are being confirmed daily.
One very special guest will be Brother Guy Consolmagno, Director of The Vatican Observatory (yes, the Vatican). The city has also confirmed that NASA will be bringing a broadcast truck to the Point of Greatest Eclipse.
For more than a year, there have been local committees hard at work to plan for the big event. The committees include safety, communications, medical and utilities. The city, county, region and state have all worked together along with Fort Campbell, the Kentucky State Police and area businesses to prepare for the influx of visitors.
Multiple festivals, concerts and other activities will coincide with the eclipse events. Hotels and established campsites are approaching sellout, and the entire area is planning for thousands yet to come. City soccer fields and parks will be converted into campsites, adding to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area camping capacity. Golf courses and private citizens will open their properties as prime viewing spots for the eclipse.
Brooke Jung, who was contracted by the City of Hopkinsville and Christian County Fiscal Court to manage the eclipse event, said the overall goal is to keep everyone safe and happy, as well as promote the area. “Eclipse totality will last two minutes and forty seconds,” said Jung. “We want to expose visitors to other attractions and give them such a good experience they’ll want to come back.” A Louisville native, Jung brings career tourism and marketing experience ranging from the Kentucky Derby to Chicago Bears football games.
The eclipse is certainly big news, complete with its own dedicated website. Hopkinsville has been getting its share of national media attention as the epicenter of the solar eclipse. Click on the link to Hopkinsville, Kentucky below and you’ll also find a listing of the numerous events being planned around August 21.
But Hopkinsville has also been getting a lot of attention for other, more down-to-earth achievements. It’s one of Kentucky’s fastest growing cities, is one of Kentucky’s most demographically and racially diverse cities and was named as the most charitable city per capita in Kentucky based on a Philanthropy.com study.