A rare sight in the sky that won’t happen until next summer is already filling Charleston hotel rooms.
A total solar eclipse will trace a narrow path across the United States on Aug. 21, starting in Oregon and ending in Charleston at 2:48 p.m. The sun will be completely dark in Charleston for about a minute and a half.
“It is a scene of unimaginable beauty; the Moon completely blocks the Sun, daytime becomes a deep twilight, and the Sun’s corona shimmers in the darkened sky," according to the Great American Eclipse website, which urges everyone to drive somewhere to witness it.
Charleston is a top destination as the final stop.
The last time a total eclipse cut across the whole continent was in 1918, and the next one won't be until April 8, 2024, according to the website. The last eclipse that was visible on the Eastern seaboard was March 7, 1970.
The Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Isle of Palms have both created web pages for this one.
The Isle of Palms rolled out its web page in August, a year before the eclipse. The 51-room Seaside Inn on the Isle of Palms is completely booked for the event. Manager Tanya Brown says at least 80 percent of the rooms were reserved because of the eclipse.
“You’ve got a good view out here on the beach,” she said.
The Boardwalk Inn at Wild Dunes has also started getting bookings for the eclipse, according to Kyle Blankenship in reservations.
“We’ve had people from all over the country call,” he said.
The Charleston Visitors Bureau put up its "Go Dark Charleston" web page about three weeks ago. "Witness one of the most awe-inspiring celestial events from the nation’s #1 city,” it states.
Several hotels are advertising fancy packages, including a boat ride, a view of the city from a helicopter, stargazing from the cupola of a historic mansion and personal commentary by astronomers while sipping champagne.
The HarbourView Inn, which is offering rooftop viewing with an astronomer from the College of Charleston, has sold about half its 50 rooms. It's unusual to sell many rooms more than two months in advance, General Manager Chris Harvey said.
“It is pretty incredible how much we have on the books for that weekend already,” he said.
The Wentworth Mansion is offering a three-day, four-night package that includes the boat and helicopter rides and stargazing from the cupola, as well as dinner at the Circa 1886 Restaurant. The package has received national attention from Travel + Leisure, and a few rooms are left, according to Linn Lesesne with Charming Inns.
Columbia is also promoting the eclipse on its website. The capital city is in the middle of the solar path, so the sun will stay dark more than two and a half minutes. A party is planned at the State Museum.