Nashville sees a total solar eclipse, goes dark for two minutes

6:01 p.m Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 AJC Homepage
Mary Herrington of Memphis, Tenn. takes in the start of the total solar eclipse in Nashville at First Tennessee Park.

Eight-year-old Max Choset wasn’t scared of the total eclipse he experienced in Nashville, Tenn. on Monday. 

“I was scared that I was going to go blind, but I didn’t go blind, yet,” Choset said. “But I wasn’t scared of it.”

Choset and his family from Pittsburgh, Pa. were like many others in town to catch a glimpse of the rare total solar eclipse that Nashville experienced for nearly two minutes starting at 1:27 p.m. local time.

More than 2,000 miles from home, Jeffrey Lambe flew to Nashville from Calgary, Canada. 

“I’ve always been fascinated by astronomy, and I’ve always wanted to see an eclipse, and I thought the best way to see it was to see a total eclipse,” Lambe said. “It’s my dream.”

Jeffrey Lambe was in town for the eclipse from Calgary, Canada.

Lambe, who is in town for a week, said he chose Nashville because there was a decently priced, direct flight from Canada. 

“And I’ve always wanted to go to Nashville, I’ve heard tremendous things about the city and the whole music scene,” he said. 

Nashville hasn’t been in the path of totality for a solar eclipse in nearly 500 years, and it was one of the largest cities in the path on Monday.

More than 8,000 people, including Lambe and Choset family, were in attendance at an event hosted by Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and the Nashville Sounds baseball team at First Tennessee Park.

While there weren’t estimates available as of Monday, Barry said the city expected more than a million visitors in the metro Nashville area.

At the Mayor’s event alone, there were people from 35 states and 10 countries.

“Once again, Nashville knows how to throw a party,” Barry said. 

Before the moon began gearing its path toward the sun, crowds started gathering downtown on lower Broadway around 10 a.m. Monday. 

Vendors selling T-shirts, eclipse glasses and more were set up under tents while businesses along Broadway prepared for the large crowds.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry hosted an eclipse viewing event at First Tennessee Park on Monday.

Matt Harville, the general manager at AJs Good Time Bar, said the eclipse has been on the bar’s radar long before it opened in October 2016. 

AJs, which is owned by Georgia native Alan Jackson and whose personal touches are all throughout the bar, recently finished construction on its third level and rooftop back in May. 

A view of downtown Nashville from the top of AJ's Good Time Bar.

The bar sold tickets for its rooftop viewing which included a buffet, drink tickets and special T-shirts and posters printed for the event.

“We have about 100 [people] per floor capacity,” Harville said. “On the roof, we sold out tickets and expecting right at 100.”

Logo for AJ's Good Time Bar's eclipse event.


The closer the clock ticked toward totality in Nashville around 1:27 p.m., the crowd at First Tennessee grew wreary as clouds were covering the sun. 

Luckily, the sky cleared just in time for totality with those in attendance oohing and aahing at the rare sight.

RELATED: Total solar eclipse makes coast-to-coast trip through the United States

Erik Gottfried of Nashville experienced a partial solar eclipse while growing up in Ohio in 1991. But he said today’s eclipse was much much better. 

“I didn’t realize just how dark it would get and how quickly it would happen,” Gottfried said. 

“Being able to actually look directly during that minute and a half that we had totality was unbelievable and it’s great that the cloud broke just enough, too.” 

Non-locals have been making plans to be in Nashville as far out as five years, booking their hotels a year ago.

“I knew the eclipse was coming, and I always wanted to go to Nashville at some point, so it made a good time,” said David Bettwy, in town from Los Angeles. 

Martha Pratt and her husband, Jim Knox traveled more than 100 miles, from Decatur, Ala., to view the total eclipse. They said it was well worth the trip.

“This is the only time in my lifetime this will happen,” Pratt said. “History was made today.” 

People traveled from near and very far to experience the total solar eclipse totality in North Georgia.
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