August 21, 2017 will be a dark day in Asheville, North Carolina… at least for a few moments. On this day, the United States will see its first total solar eclipse since 1972.

Asheville and its surrounding areas are an ideal place to view this rare celestial event thanks to its altitude and location. There’s lots of places to put the top down on your VW Beetle Convertible and see a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Discover some of the best viewing locations and how to view the solar eclipse safely.

What, Where, and How to View the Eclipse

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and the Earth, blocking the rays and casting a shadow on the planet. Since the moon is not large enough to cast a shadow on the entire Earth, an eclipse is always limited to a certain area.

This year’s eclipse will be the first one in this area since 1506, and the last one until 2153.

Where are the best places to see it?

Mountain tops and lakes are ideal places to view the eclipse, as there will not buildings and other structures to block it out. The Cherohala Skyway offers an excellent view, and it will experience the longest period of darkness, lasting about two and a half minutes.

The small towns of Cashiers, Dillsboro, and Sylva will all be hosting celebrations of the eclipse with live music and food trucks.

How do I view the eclipse?

As Bruce Springsteen sang, “Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun,” and this is especially true during a solar eclipse, as the rays can permanently damage your eyes.

One of the most popular ways to view an eclipse is with a pinhole camera, which is easy to make using objects found in nearly every home or office.

Many people will also choose to wear solar viewing glasses, also known as personal solar filters. They may look like normal sunglasses, but are many times darker. Not unlike the SPF ratings of sunscreen, these glasses are rated for effectiveness. Be sure your glasses meet the standard of ISO 12312-2 before using them.

We hope you enjoy this once in a lifetime event, and we would love for you to visit us at VW of Asheville to tell us all about the experience.