An annular solar eclipse is one in which the edge of the sun remains visible as a bright ring around the moon creating a ring of fire. The viewing spot from which the ring of fire appears as a perfect circle is called the centerline, or the “sweet spot.”
Kanarraville could see its size increase by as many as 40,000 on Sunday evening, according to the predictions of the Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau. Cedar City is also an excellent place to view the eclipse and may also have a large influx of people for the astronomical event.
The eclipse, which will occur from about 6:33 p.m. until about 8:37 p.m. Sunday evening, will be visible from a few places across the Western United States, but Iron County and particularly Kanarraville are accessible and offer a great view.
David Ence, Kanarraville town clerk, was informed by a NASA representative in 2010 that the town of 456 residents had been identified as the “sweet spot” for the eclipse, and that they may want to begin preparations as these astrological events tend to draw big crowds.
At first Ence did not believe the ramifications of the phone call.
“At first I thought it was a joke,” he said. “And then as we talked more about it, I began to understand the potential of the situation.”
The exact centerline from which to view the eclipse is located just south of Kanarraville in Iron County on private property. Adjacent to that property, however, is 5 acres the city has leased from the BLM for a baseball diamond and that is where they will direct crowds to watch the eclipse.
“It’s not a big space,” he said “And every time I look at it, it gets a little smaller.”
Special protective eyewear is needed to view the eclipse and eclipse shades are available free of charge at the Iron County Visitors Center, 581 N. Main St., and at the Solar Eclipse Extravaganza at the Aquatic Center on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Bonnie Char, with the tourism bureau, said the whole area is a scenic sweet spot and there will be events across the region to invite people to come and view the eclipse.
Ence has prepared the area with 31 port-a-potties, and has elicited the cooperation from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, to help provide security. The Cedar City Volunteers in Police Service, Cedar City Police, and many other entities will also be assisting with traffic control and be on hand in case of emergency situation, according to the Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau.
Ence and the city of Kanarraville wanted to extend a special thanks to Char for all the work she has put into helping prepare for this event.
“She has been a wonderful resource for us, and has helped us coordinate with various county agencies” he said. “We owe her a huge thanks for the great work she has done in helping us prepare for this event.”
“It’s just really impossible to plan for an event when you have no real idea how many people are going to show up,” Ence added.
Ence said they are expecting anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 and there is no way to predict how many will travel for the event.
“We are starting to get more excited, (but) we are also getting a little nervous,” Ence said. “We fly under the radar here and we aren’t used to the attention, but I think it will all go very well.”
Brian Head Resort is opening a lift and for $8 and people can view the eclipse from the top of Giant Steps. Near Parowan, there will be an eclipse-viewing event at the Parowan Gap, Bryce Canyon is holding a two-day event featuring many activities, and the trails at Cedar Breaks will be open even though the facilities and visitor’s center will not open for a few more weeks.