Traveling for the 2017 Eclipse: Totality Worth It

Traveling hundreds, even thousands of miles to see a solar eclipse is not unheard of.

There are people who call themselves “eclipse chasers,” that travel the world to witness and capture solar eclipses. Among them is renowned eclipse chaser, Dr. Gordon M. Telepun, a plastic surgeon living in Decatur, Alabama. He is considered an expert on eclipses and has traveled to countries in Asia and Africa to study them.

Telepun has given lectures to NASA and was recently interviewed by Destin Sandlin, a YouTube vlogger, about his expertise on eclipses. During the interview, Telepun highlights and explains the big difference that less than one percent can make when viewing a solar eclipse, along with additional information regarding solar eclipses. Telepun advises that traveling to see a solar eclipse in totality is a worthwhile venture that should not be missed.

The difference was apparent when comparing an 80 mile and approximately 90 minute difference between Athens, Georgia and Rabun County, Georgia.


Path of total solar eclipse. (infographic/


Thousands of Athens residents packed Sanford Stadium on Monday, August 21st to watch the skies go dark in the middle of the afternoon for a brief, two-minute period of 99.1 percent eclipse coverage. However, the eager spectators were met with a bit of shade. A cloud that had passed by a few minutes earlier provided even more coverage than the eclipse. 

Meanwhile, Athens residents who made the drive north to enter a zone of coverage in totality, Rabun, Georgia, for example, were greeted by an experience worthy of all the mystique and wonder the anticipation of the solar eclipse provided in the weeks and months leading up to it.


99.1% Eclipse Coverage- Athens, Georgia (Totality Peak at 2:38 P.M.)



Photo taken minutes before totality at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia on August 21st, 2017.
Photo taken minutes after totality at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia on August 21st, 2017.











100% Eclipse Coverage- Rabun, Georgia (Totality Peak at 2:38 P.M.)


Photo taken during totality at Lake Rabun in Rabun, Georgia on August 21, 2017. (photo/
Photo taken minutes after totality at Lake Rabun in Rabun, Georgia on August 21, 2017. (photo/










Throughout Rabun, the roads were lined with cars, cameras, and coolers packed and ready for viewing totality. By 9:30 a.m. the surrounding campsites and public parking lots were full, leaving people to pull off on the side of the road and park until the eclipse started.

David Tillis, a resident of Rabun county, mentioned that he would be willing to travel to see another eclipse after the finish of this one.

“I’m already getting ready for the next eclipse,” says Tillis.

Of course, that’s not to say the astrological phenomena was unexciting for those who remained in Athens. But the slight dip in temperature and moderately dimmer lighting were a far cry from the mid-afternoon twilight witnessed by those who were willing to make the trek up to North Georgia or the Carolinas to get the full effect of a total eclipse.

The next time a solar eclipse passes through the United States, in April of 2024, make sure to go the extra mile, or miles, to reach an area of 100 percent coverage. The experience is sure to eclipse anything seen by those who settled for less this time around.

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