Solar Eclipse Festival: Pre-Eclipse Astronomy Day

As a dress rehearsal for the real thing, Elachee prepares the community for the 2.5-minute blackout with an astronomy day on Saturday, August 19, 2017.

August 1, 2017 (Gainesville, Ga.) – Elachee Nature Science Center will welcome the public for a Solar Eclipse Festival on Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This pre-eclipse astronomy day will help individuals prepare to safely experience the natural phenomenon that will blanket northeast Georgia on Monday, August 21. Elachee Solar Eclipse Festival is a pre-eclipse astronomy day on Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Liberty Utilities is sponsoring this special nature education event that takes place two days before the highly anticipated solar eclipse at Elachee, 2125 Elachee Drive in Gainesville, Ga. Admission is $10 per person ages two and up, with Elachee Members receiving 50-percent off admission. The per-person program fee also includes solar eclipse safety glasses (while supplies last), along with entry to Elachee’s natural history and live animal exhibits.

“The August 21 eclipse of the sun is one of the most important and unique events of the past 25 years,” says Peter Gordon, Elachee’s Director of Education. “The Elachee organization is particularly qualified to provide the information and activities to prepare our community for this significant phenomenon. Elachee’s festival is not during the eclipse itself. It’s a dress rehearsal for the real thing.”

Elachee President/CEO Andrea Timpone comments, “We are excited to share in preparations for this rare event by holding the Elachee Solar Eclipse Festival on Saturday, August 19. At this pre-eclipse astronomy day, our education staff will treat you to information about the schedule for the eclipse itself, as well as provide safety precautions you will need to take to view it on Monday, August 21.”

Elachee’s Saturday festival gives the public a sneak peek of what area school children often enjoy: an astronomy day. Things to do at the festival include entry inside Elachee’s STARLAB portable planetarium (VIEW VIDEO to participate in the acclaimed Seeing Stars program. Families will see the wonder of all the other stars around Earth in the Universe and the constellations they form in our imaginations. Plus, children will have the opportunity to make an astronomy-related craft sure to come in handy on eclipse day. Safely view solar flares at Elachee's Solar Eclipse Festival (pre-eclipse astronomy day) on Saturday, August 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Ga.

Throughout the three-hour Elachee event, visitors may also take a turn safely viewing the Sun’s surface through telescopes fitted with solar filters, such as the Hydrogen-alpha telescope to observe the solar filaments in the active chromosphere of the Sun. This, in particular, is a sight that once required a total solar eclipse to see! 

“At Elachee’s Solar Eclipse Festival find out where to go for the total solar eclipse experience,” says Robert Webb, Elachee Astronomer and Senior Naturalist. “Learn what kind of equipment you need, from expensive to simple, to safely view and photograph the eclipse on Monday, August 21.”

Elachee senior naturalist and astronomer Robert Webb will conduct four program sessions about the rarity of solar eclipses.Webb will conduct four program sessions that reveal why a total solar eclipse is so rare, and how solar eclipses are different from solstices, equinoxes and even lunar eclipses. “While the whole solar eclipse will last nearly three hours, totality only lasts two-and-a-half minutes,” he explains. “This is an experience unlike any other on Earth, or our Solar System for that matter. You don’t want to miss it!”

In addition, Sylvester Ratowt, Elachee Historian and facilitator of the Nature Center’s seasonal Historical Hikes program series, will speak on the history of eclipses.

Webb reminds us the last solar eclipse to come this close to Gainesville was May 30, 1984. Although 99.7-percent of the Sun was covered, it was not safe to look at and that was not enough to reveal the awe inspiring corona. For the August 21 eclipse, the Sun’s photosphere will be completely blocked in certain locations across the country and in Georgia. In Gainesville, however, expectations are the Sun will once again be 99-percent blocked by the Moon.

Gordon says, “Education and Conservation are the pillars of Elachee’s mission. The universe beyond us stimulates our curiosity and imagination like nothing else. It is natural science at its grandest.”

One of Elachee's most requested field trip and outreach programs is Seeing Stars that uses the STARLAB portable planetarium.In fact, Elachee’s accredited astronomy program engages 20 percent of the more than 34,000 north Georgia students the Nature Center serves each year through PreK-12 school field trips and Elachee in Your Classroom outreach programs. The STARLAB portable planetarium is the stellar ‘sidekick’ equipment Elachee’s skilled educators have been using for over 30 years to reveal the wonders of the night sky to children in our community. 

“Area school teachers getting excited about the upcoming solar eclipse have scheduled the unique opportunity to incorporate this event into their classroom instruction,” shares Janice Jones, Elachee’s school programs registrar. “Members of our talented education team will travel with STARLAB to several local schools for an Elachee in Your Classroom outreach program around the time of the solar eclipse.”

Visit for more details and directions to Elachee’s Solar Eclipse Festival or call 770-535-1976.

About Elachee Nature Science Center

Elachee Nature Science Center, nestled in one of Georgia’s largest protected greenspaces, the 1,440-acre Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve, is a private, independently operated 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. For nearly 40 years, this premier SACS/AdvancEd-accredited north Georgia nature center has been instrumental in building environmental literacy for Georgians. Elachee serves tens of thousands of visitors annually through STEAM-based environmental education classes and quality nature education field trip experiences for PreK-12 school age children, interactive natural history and live animal exhibits, 12 miles of pristine hiking trailsCamp Elachee and special nature education programs for the public. The campus is also home to Elachee Nature Academy offering a nature-based State-licensed and SACS-accredited Preschool and Kindergarten-1st Grade. Elachee relies on earned income and tax-deductible donationscorporate sponsorships, planned gifts, grants and the annual Flights of Fancy Benefit and Auction to fund operations. Visit