Southern Wesleyan University, Pickens County, hosting giant eclipse event at Central

CENTRAL, S.C. – An event is coming Aug. 21 that is unlikely to repeat itself in our lifetimes, and Southern Wesleyan University will offer one of the best spots on the planet to experience it.

On Aug. 21 all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun, but only those within a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will see one of nature's most awe inspiring sights — a total solar eclipse. The university’s campus in Central is located along the center of the path of totality, which promises one of the longest viewing times in the nation for the total solar eclipse — a full 2 minutes and 37 seconds.

Southern Wesleyan is partnering with Pickens County and the town of Central for Eclipse Over Pickens County, a free event for the entire family. Visitors are invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets. There will be a live feed on the large video scoreboard at the track for safe viewing by small children.

Gates will open at Noon at the Gilbert Track and Field Complex for Eclipse Over Pickens County. Eclipse totality will begin at 2:37 p.m. Complimentary safety glasses for viewing the eclipse will be given out to visitors on a first come first served basis.

Visitors to Eclipse Over Pickens County are encouraged to bring donations of school supplies for United Way to give to local children in need in Pickens and Oconee counties.

Parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis, but premium parking is available for $10. Call Tony Payne at (864) 644-5014 for details on premium parking.

Gilbert Track and Field Complex is located at 215 Clayton Street in Central, on the SWU campus.

The day’s activities will include a lecture and lunch at Bryant Lodge, featuring Prof. Ivy Kaufman, presented by Southern Wesleyan’s Division of Science. Kaufman will give a presentation about the science behind this rare natural event. This is a ticketed event. A registration link can be found at

There will also be food vendors, live entertainment and children’s activities at Gilbert Track and Field Complex, starting at Noon.

Following the eclipse, Mike O’Neal, a 31-year NASA veteran, will present “Spirituality and Spaceflight,” a multimedia presentation on the role of spirituality in human space flight, including audio and video of astronauts from the Apollo program and the International Space Station. This presentation will begin at 3:15 p.m. in the auditorium of Newton Hobson Chapel and Fine Arts Center, 737 Wesleyan Drive, just a block away. Tickets for O’Neal’s presentation are just $5 and all proceeds will go to Southern Wesleyan’s Childs Hall Project. Seating is limited to 1,000. Tickets for O’Neal’s presentation will be available on the day of the event in the vendor area at Gilbert Track and Field. Contact Joy Bryant at (864) 644-5385 for group ticket reservations.

O’Neal, now retired from NASA, spent more than three decades working at Kennedy Space Center, and was awarded NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal as well as two Exceptional Service medals. Prior to his retirement from NASA, O’Neal completed a special assignment in which he investigated mechanisms to provide spiritual support for astronauts.

For details, ticket links and many eclipse-related resources, visit A link to information for safely viewing the solar eclipse can be found at

Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, go online to