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    5 solar eclipse viewing parties you can't miss

    By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer

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    As Aug. 21 approaches, prime total solar eclipse viewing locations across the United States are preparing for the celebration of the century.

    Some locations along the path of totality will host festivals and viewing parties leading up to and on the day of the rare astronomical event. It will be the first eclipse visible from coast to coast in the U.S. since June 8, 1918.

    For those scrambling to secure plans for what will be the hottest ticket of the summer, here are the top five solar eclipse viewing parties planned across the U.S.

    Family viewing a solar eclipse

    (Photo/kdshutterman/Getty Images)

    1. Oregon Solar Fest: Aug. 17-22, 2017

    Those planning to view the eclipse in Madras, Oregon, will see approximately 2 minutes and 2 seconds of the event on Aug. 21.

    The Oregon Solar Fest will host NASA as an official eclipse-viewing site. Attendees can interact with solar scientists from the Goddard Space Center and learn about the history of solar eclipses and the sun-earth connection.

    In addition to scientific educational activities, festivalgoers can also experience helicopter and hot air balloon rides from the festival site; live music featuring more than 20 performers; and a taste of Native-American culture.

    2. Energy Capital Eclipse Festival: Aug. 18-21, 2017

    Although Gillette, Wyoming, is approximately 90 minutes north of the path of totality, visitors and residents can still enjoy the Energy Capital Eclipse Festival and a 96.7-percent view of the total eclipse.

    For those hoping for a 100-percent viewing, the festival offers a two-hour shuttle ride to Casper, Wyoming. Casper lies within the path of totality and will experience approximately 2 minutes and 26 seconds of the full eclipse.

    Prior to Aug. 21, Gillette’s festival will feature three days of family activities including a planetarium show, coal mine tours and live music.

    3. Howl at the Moon Music Festival: Aug. 19-21, 2017

    Located along the path of totality, Nashville, Tennessee, will be shrouded in darkness on Aug. 21 for approximately one minute and 55 seconds.

    In the three days counting down to the main event, the city will host the Howl at the Moon Music Festival.

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    Billed as a Woodstock- type, once-in-a-lifetime event, the camping festival will include performances by 40 indie artists.

    4. “Little Green Men” Days Festival: Aug. 18-21, 2017

    The annual “Little Green Men” Days Festival in Kelly, Kentucky, aligns perfectly with this summer’s much-anticipated cosmic event.

    The festival, held during the third weekend in August, commemorates the anniversary of the Kelly-Hopkinsville extraterrestrial encounter which allegedly occurred on Aug. 21, 1955.

    A family had reported that small, alien-like creatures emerged from a spaceship and attacked their farmhouse.

    The festival lineup features family- and community-focused events, including a costume contest, live music and a solar eclipse viewing on Aug. 21. Kelly will experience about 2 minutes and 38 seconds of totality.

    5. Capital Eclipse Celebration: Aug. 19-21, 2017

    Jefferson City, Missouri, is celebrating the solar eclipse with events throughout the capital.

    The city will experience approximately 2 minutes and 29 seconds of totality. It will be the first total solar eclipse visible in Missouri in 148 years.

    Visitors can participate in pre-solar eclipse activities including city tours, a 5k fun run, a traveling NASA exhibit, stargazing and a solar eclipse viewing event.

    Official eclipse glasses will also be available during the event. Viewing the eclipse without proper eye protection can lead to permanent vision damage.

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