Business was brisk at the S.C. State Museum on Saturday ahead of Monday’s solar eclipse.
Marketing director Merritt McNeely said the museum had twice as many visitors in the first three hours Saturday as they would on a normal Saturday in August. At least half of those visitors came in from out of state, McNeely said.
One of those visitors was Albert Williams of Johnson City, N.Y., who drove down with his wife, Alicia, to visit their two daughters in Greensboro, N.C. Williams then drove to Columbia to view the eclipse, staying at his brother Lloyd’s house in Lexington.
“My wife was OK staying in Greensboro because we didn’t know what the crowds were going to be like, and they’re getting a 93 percent eclipse,” Williams said. “But I wanted total.”
Williams came to Columbia with his own telescope and camera, both equipped with filters.
McNeely said the museum planetarium has a special show called “Shadows from Space” that overs a 360-degree real-time simulation of the eclipse over Columbia; a trove of commemorative souvenirs; and an exhibit of items from Brig. Gen. Charles Duke of Lancaster trip to the moon.
Duke and Gov. Henry McMaster are scheduled to speak to schoolchildren at 12:15 p.m. Monday, and Duke will address the crowd gathered for the eclipse.
Four thousand people are expected to watch the eclipse outside the museum, and the view from the museum’s telescope will be livestreamed on S.C. ETV and PBS stations around the country – including a football stadium scoreboard in Topeka, Kansas.
The museum still has certified eclipse glasses available for paying museum guests. McNeely said they were sure to buy more than needed ahead of the eclipse.
“We have 7,000 bottles of water available,” McNeely said. “We have people coming in from out of state and out of the country, and we’re banking on the fact they don’t know what the heat index is going to be.”