CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In two short months, the heavens—in the words of English poet Lavinia Greenlaw—will throw a “celestial dimmer switch” during the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, and as excitement builds across the country for this cosmic spectacle, Austin Peay State University is gearing up to host official NASA viewing parties at the campus’ Fortera Stadium.
More than 8,000 people are expected to make their way to the football stadium on Aug. 21, 2017, to safely witness the total solar eclipse. The University’s Clarksville, Tennessee, campus is situated near the epicenter of this historic event, meaning the sky will go dark for more than two minutes—one of the longest periods of darkness in the entire country.
To take advantage of Austin Peay’s fortunate location, University officials have spent the last several years organizing its PeayClipse events. On Aug. 21, APSU will offer two extraordinary opportunities for individuals to witness the total solar eclipse.
            Eclipse Viewing Event at Fortera Stadium
Austin Peay’s Fortera Stadium will open to the public at 11:30 a.m. that day for the public to view the eclipse. The cost is $5 to park, with each vehicle receiving a free pair of viewing glasses.
The stadium’s scoreboard will display a live feed from the APSU observatory. Beginning at noon, members of APSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy will provide scientific and historical information about the phenomenon. This information will be repeated throughout the event. When the eclipse begins, attendees can watch the event on the scoreboard and through telescopes set up with the solar protection.
             Premier Eclipse Viewing Experience
Individuals interested in a more in-depth experience can purchase tickets to the Solar PeayClipse Lunch and Learn. For a $200 donation to the APSU College of Science and Mathematics, which will be used to provide future opportunities for APSU students, participants will enjoy a reception with Dr. Rhea Seddon, former NASA astronaut, before her keynote address at 5 p.m. on Aug. 20, and a meal in the stadium’s club level on the day of the eclipse. During the meal, Dr. Stephanie Wingo, NASA atmospheric scientist, will deliver a talk, and attendees will receive a commemorative book, solar glasses and a custom-designed commemorative pendant.
To purchase tickets or for additional information, visit, or contact the APSU Advancement Office at 931-221-7127.
The day will be memorable, and people will want to share the experience with other individuals. On June 30, 1927, the English writer Virginia Woolf witnessed a total solar eclipse, and she later wrote about the surreal experience in her diary.
“It became darker and darker,” she wrote, “as at the beginning of a violent storm: the light sank and sank: we kept saying this is the shadow; and we thought now it is over—this is the shadow when suddenly the light went out.”
The University is hosting several other PeayClipse celebrations this summer and on the day of the eclipse. Details on those events will be released later this week.