Three friends traveled to Orangeburg in hopes of catching a good view of Monday’s eclipse.
James Long, Terry Renna and Anthony Peritore started their drive together, leaving different parts of Florida on Friday morning.
Around 11 hours later, they reached Orangeburg, a stop directly in the center of the eclipse’s path of totality.
“You don’t get to see these every day,” Long said. “If you can get to the path of totality, you get to the path of totality.”
This will not be his first eclipse.
Long’s first was in 1970 in Nantucket, an island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
He was not on the ground, however. Long was in the sky.
“I was flying the airplane so I didn’t get to see much of it,” he said. “What impressed me was the shadow coming up the water.”
Nine years later, Long found himself in Glendale, Washington for the 1979 eclipse.
“It was very amazing,” he said.
The skies on that day have him worried about Monday’s weather conditions.
“We got maybe a half a minute, 30 seconds because of the clouds and the fog,” Long said. “It wasn’t the best site to do it.”
“We’re hoping that it’s clear enough,” Renna added.
This will be Renna and Peritore’s first time viewing a total eclipse.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Renna said.
“We’re extremely excited because we’re going to see something that we’ve never really seen before,” Peritore added.
The three have spent the past several months practicing and preparing for the big event.
That includes attending the American Astronomical Society eclipse workshop in Columbia held back in April.
They have been making plans, checking geography, following weather patterns and seeing which equipment they need to upgrade.
They practiced by taking pictures of sunspots and making sure their filters were appropriately attached.
Tripods, various cameras and even drones will be at their disposal.
“We think we know what we’re doing now,” Peritore laughed.
The group did offer some helpful advice to eclipse viewers.
“Whenever the light from the sun is shining, you wear your glasses,” Long said. “Don’t use your eyes to look at the sun.”
“If you look at the sun unfiltered … you could permanently damage your eyes,” he added.
Renna said people wearing regular glasses should be careful while looking at the sun.
“Nobody should have glasses on because the lens is like using a magnifying glass on your eyes,” he said.
Long said Orangeburg should be a great site.
“We tried Santee and we were only going to be able to do an east-west traverse,” he said. “Here, I’ve got access all the way up to Clemson, all the way down to Charleston.”
He added that the proximity to the roads will be a key factor as well because he “didn’t want to get involved with the traffic up in Columbia.”
“Orangeburg’s been very hospitable to us,” Long said. “It’s a nice little community.”
Their only worry is the weather.
“If the weather stays like it is, we’ll be right here,” Long said. “If it starts fogging up like they say it might slightly do, we may have to move north.”
The three could end up going up to Clemson or Greenville.
“It’s really weather dependent,” Long said.
Totality will begin shortly after 2:43 p.m. and last for more than two minutes and twenty seconds.
Both before and after this totality, the area will experience the partial eclipse phases as the moon slowly moves over the sun starting after 1 p.m. and lasting until about 4 p.m.