2017 Total Solar Eclipse in South Carolina

by Fred Espenak

Path in South Carolina
Weather Prospects
Fun Facts
Eclipse Viewing Events
Google Eclipse Map
Eclipse Circumstances for Cities
Animation of the Moon's Shadow
States in Path of Totality
Publications on the 2017 Eclipse
Additional Links

The 2017 Eclipse Path in Georgia

Map courtesy of Michael Zeiler GreatAmericanEclipse.com

The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse in South Carolina

On 2017 August 21, a total eclipse of the Sun is visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses the United States of America. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in northern Pacific and crosses the USA from west to east through parts of the following states: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina (a tiny corner of Montana and Iowa are also in the path). A partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering all of North America (See Map).

After sweeping across Georgia and North Carolina, the Moon's shadow enters South Carolina, the final state in the eclipse track.

Columbia (pop. 133,400), the capital and largest city in South Carolina, is 15 km (9 mi) north of the central line. Mid-totality occurs at 18:43 UT1 (14:43 EDT) with a duration of 2 minutes 30 seconds and a Sun altitude of 62°. After its 10-minute trip across the state, the umbra reaches the Atlantic coastline at Francis Marion National Forest. Historic Charleston (pop. 128,000) stands just inside the southern limit - totality there lasts 1 minute 29 seconds centered on 18:47 UT1 (14:47 EDT).

Leaving the American coastline, the lunar shadow begins a 75-minute-long journey covering 5800 km (3600 mi) across the Atlantic Ocean with no further landfall. At 20:02 UT1, the umbra reaches its terminus 630 km (390 mi) southwest of Cape Verde as it lifts off Earth's surface and returns to space. Over the course of 3 hours 13 minutes, the umbra travels along a 13,900 km (8640 mi) track that covers an area equal to 0.26% of Earth's surface.

Safe Eclipse Viewing

Every total eclipse of the Sun begins and ends with a partial eclipse. The partial phases require either a projection technique or a special solar filter to be viewed safely. Read more about this at Safe Solar Eclipse Viewing.

Of course during the few brief minutes of Totality when the Sun's disk is completely covered by the Moon, it is then safe to look directly at the Sun with the naked eye or through a telescope or binoculars.

Weather Prospects in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina

(Excerpts from Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21)

It is mid-afternoon when the shadow passes though Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Convective cloud buildups will be increasing, replacing the more sedate cloudiness of the morning hours. Even so, the cooling that comes with the eclipse shadow should have a dramatic effect in dissipating the cloudiness provided the buildups haven’t reached the rain-producing stage.

Once over the Blue Ridge Mountains, the track passes over a landscape that is dropping sharply in elevation toward the Atlantic coast. Alas, it has little impact on the cloud cover, as this part of America is now supplied by moisture from the warm waters along the coast and moist air is available in abundance no matter which way the wind blows.

Average cloudiness does not decline on the east side of the Appalachians according to both satellite and surface observations, at least until the Atlantic coast is reached. Eclipse observations will be a challenge. Anderson, SC, has an observed cloudiness of only 50% on average, but the calculation is affected by a strange absence of "scattered" cloud reports and a high frequency in the "few" category in the official record. In all likelihood, the value there will be similar to those elsewhere in the state.

The best observing site in the Carolinas is likely to be right on the coast. Since convective clouds build from the heating of the land, ocean side viewpoints are able to take advantage of lower cloud levels in the cooler air that flows inland from the offshore waters. A site could be selected in Charleston, though the city is well off the central line and the time penalty would be significant. Better is a seaside park such as Buck Hall Recreation Area, about 2 1/2 miles from the central line. Buck Hall is a small park however and cannot accommodate a large crowd. Access to the waterfront is limited by marshy offshore islands and private homes along the coast, but it should be sufficient to be within a mile or two of the Atlantic to take advantage of the cloud-suppressing winds from the east.

South Carolina is no stranger to Atlantic hurricanes and so the possibility of one of these storms in the days surrounding the eclipse, though very small, cannot be discounted. Storm statistics for the Carolina coast reveal that the eclipse comes at a time when the frequency of tropical storms is on the rise toward its mid-September peak. Since 1867, 43 hurricanes have made landfall over South Carolina. Of these, 5 occurred within the four-week period centered on the date of the eclipse. Talk about hurricanes with any long-term South Carolina resident and the names Hugo (1989), Charley (2004), and perhaps Gracie (1959) and Hazel (1954) will come quickly into the conversation. Of these, Hugo, at category 5, was the strongest, bringing wind speeds of 140 mph when it made landfall right over the eclipse track on September 22.

A great source of weather forecasts in the days leading up to the eclipse is Jay Anderson's Eclipsophile.com.

Excerpts from Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21. This material may not be reproduced without permission.

Fun Facts for the 2017 Total Eclipse in South Carolina

  • The average width of the path of totality across South Carolina is 71.5 miles.
  • The central line duration of totality decreases from 2 minutes 38 seconds to 2 minutes 34 seconds across South Carolina (from west to east).
  • Across South Carolina (from west to east) the speed of the Moon's shadow increases from 1455 to 1488 mph.
    (average speed is 1472 mph)
  • The center of the Moon's shadow sweeps across entire state of South Carolina (from west to east) in just 10 minutes 16 seconds (a distance of 252 miles).
  • Before 2017, the last two total solar eclipses visible from South Carolina were on 1970 Mar 07 and 1900 May 28.
  • After 2017, the next two total solar eclipses visible from South Carolina will be on 2052 Mar 30 and 2078 May 11.

Eclipse Viewing Events and Local Pages in South Carolina

Google Map of 2017 Total Eclipse in South Carolina

Google Map of 2017 Total Eclipse in South Carolina
(Click to use interactive map)

The map above links to an interactive Google map showing the visibility of the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21 in South Carolina. The interactive map allows the user to zoom and drag the map as desired. Click the cursor on any location to generate eclipse circumstances from that location.

Eclipse Circumstances for Cities in South Carolina

The table below lists eclipse circumstances for a number of cities in South Carolina. The following information is given for each city.

  • The type of eclipse seen from the city (Partial or Total).
  • The times when the partial eclipse begins and ends.
  • The times when the total eclipse begins and ends.
  • The time of maximum eclipse.
  • The altitude on the Sun above the horizon (in degrees) at each of these times.
  • The Eclipse Magnitude at maximum eclipse. Eclipse Magnitude is the fraction of the Sun’s diameter occulted by the Moon.
  • The Eclipse Obscuration at maximum eclipse. Eclipse obscuration is the fraction of the Sun’s area occulted by the Moon.
  • The Duration Total Eclipse is the length of the total phase in minutes and seconds (i.e., totality).

The times appearing in this table include Daylight Saving Time (DST) for all cities in which DST is observed. Report time zone or DST corrections for any city to EclipseWise.

Thanks to Bill Kramer (Eclipse-Chasers.com) for helping to develop the code to generate the above eclipse circumstances table. To calculate predictions for other cities see 2017 Eclipse Circumstances Calculator.

The partial phases require either a projection technique or a special solar filter to be viewed safely. On the other hand it is completely safe to watch Totality with the naked eye. For more information see Safe Solar Eclipse Viewing.

Animation of the Moon's Shadow Across South Carolina

The animation above shows the Moon's umbral shadow as it tracks across South Carolina. Observers must be inside this path to see the total eclipse. Outside the path only a partial eclipse is seen.

Animation courtesy of Michael Zeiler GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

States in the Path of Totality

The index below gives links to special pages for each of the 12 states in the path of the 2017 total solar eclipse. Note that the eclipse path also crosses a tiny corner of Montana and Iowa, but they are not included in this table.

States in the Path of Totality






South Carolina





North Carolina


11" x 17" poster map of the 2017 eclipse path through South Carolina

Additional Links for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Safe Solar Eclipse Glasses

Rainbow Symphony Eclipse Shades

Thousand Oaks Optical Solar Filters

Great American Eclipse Store

Links to Additional Solar Eclipse Information


Some in the JavaScript code used here is based on the work of Deirdre O'Byrne and Stephen McCann. Bill Kramer (Eclipse-Chasers.com) has expanded this code to work with dozens of cities.

The Besselian elements and values of ΔT used in these calculations are from Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21.

Permission is freely granted to reproduce this data when accompanied by an acknowledgment:

"Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak (EclipseWise.com)"

Return to: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21