Solar Eclipse 2017 and the alien invasion battle exactly 62 years ago

Great American solar eclipse: What you need to knowNASA

Tens of thousands of people have flocked to the town of Hopkinsville to catch what will be the best view of the total solar eclipse. At 1:24pm and 41 seconds Central Time, the Kentucky town, now known as Eclipseville, will experience an unrivalled two minutes and 41 seconds of darkness, essentially becoming the greatest place on the planet to experience the total eclipse.

However, this is not the first time Hopkinsville has gained widespread attention as a result of extra-terrestrial activity. In fact, the eclipse on 21 August will coincide with the 62<sup>nd anniversary of what UFO-chasers and conspiracy theorists alike refer to as the "Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter".

On 21 August 1955, two cars containing five adults and several other children pulled up to the Hopkinsville police station asking for help after claiming they had "been fighting them for nearly four hours".

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The "them" in question in which became known as the Hopkinsville "little green men". Two people inside the farmhouse, Billy Ray Taylor and Elmer 'Lucky' Sutton, claimed to have fired four boxes of pistol bullets at the "twelve to fifteen" short, dark figures who appeared at them at their doorway or windows.

Local media at the time reported how the farmhouse was covered in bullet holes following the "stand-off" with whatever it was they were firing at.

As reported in the Kentucky New Era in August 1955 at the time:

"One of the strange little men was in a nearby tree, another on top of the house. A blast from Sutton's shotgun knocked another one of the men down but he did not appear hurt. He disappeared in the darkness.

"Taylor reportedly opened fire on other members of the invading party, also with little effect. The battle went on for some time. When the occupants of the house saw their chance, they jumped into their cars and drove to Hopkinsville for help."

Neighbours and naysayers dismissed the reported alien sighting as merely an attempt to get some fame mixed with them men being drunk on moonshine.

Writing in the Frontiers in Psychology in 2014, Rodney Schmaltz and Scott Lilienfeld add that the men were probably more likely to have been shooting at owls the entire time.

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They said: "The 'aliens' were, in fact, Great Horned Owls, and the eyewitnesses were probably intoxicated during the alien attack'."

Ten days after the incident, the family at the farmhouse left town following days of harassment.

Aubrey Gemignani, a photographer with Nasa, tests her camera equipment at the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience in Madras, OregonStan Honda/AFP

Despite this, the legacy surrounding the reported sighting continued to spread for decades, even resulting in the annual Little Green Men Festival taking place in nearby Kelly.

The festival, complete with live music, food stalls and a 38 ft flying saucer, attracts just over 1000 people each year since it launched in 2011. However, what with the celebrations this year coinciding with the solar eclipse in Hopkinsville, the festival organisers are expected more than 20,000 people to attend.

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Frank Brown, president of the Kelly Community Organization, told the Courier-Journal: "People have asked me if we're prepared and I don't think we can be fully prepared."

Speaking about the infamous 'little green men' encounter Brown added: "50% think something did happen and 50% just want to have fun.

Local resident Joann Smithey, also of the Kelly Community Organization, told The Washington Post: "It's like I've been saying. You better check the hand you're holding to be sure it's the hand you want to hold, because you don't know what's going to be standing beside you when the darkness comes."

The total eclipse in the US, estimated to be the "most observed" in history, will be the first total solar eclipse spanning the entire continental United States since 1918 and the first visible anywhere in the lower 48 states in 38 years.

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