Missouri residents are pretty lucky and will be the envy of a large population of people around the world on Aug. 21.
After all, the Show-Me State will be one of the best places in the U.S. to see what’s being dubbed as “The Great American Eclipse.”
Angela Speck, Ph.D., professor of astrophysics and director of astronomy at the University of Missouri-Columbia, says the eclipse’s path brings it across Missouri when the sun will be near its highest point, thereby offering excellent views.
In short, Speck says, if you can see south, you’ll be able to see the eclipse. People who plan to view the event need eclipse glasses. Don't forget to check out these tips for safe viewing, too.
If you’re planning to come to Missouri for the eclipse, or you just happen to be visiting in the days leading up to it, check VisitMO.com to find lodging options, restaurants and other things to do while you’re in the Show-Me State.
The Missouri Department of Transportation has an eclipse website with driving-safety tips and information, while the State of Missouri's Office of Administration also has a special eclipse-themed website for residents and visitors to use.
When it comes to lodging, you’re better served by calling properties directly, as many third-party booking agents (such as Expedia) won’t have the most up-to-date information on room availability at a particular location.
According to Speck, who is co-chairing a national task force on the event, eclipse tourism is a robust, but often overlooked, industry.
“People travel all over the world to see these things,” she says. “The difference for the eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, is that there are no borders and nothing to stop anyone in the U.S. traveling to the path of totality.”
Eclipse-related events are being planned in communities across Missouri. Some of the cities with activities already scheduled include:
• St. Joseph
• Jefferson City
• St. Charles
• St. Clair
• Ste. Genevieve
• Bonne Terre
• Cape Girardeau
Missouri State Parks also will have various events taking place; 40 parks are situated along the path of totality. A special ride on the Katy Trail is one such event.
Missourians should be prepared for an influx of visitors – they are called umbraphiles – in the days leading up to the eclipse. In some areas, tens of thousands of onlookers are expected.
So why all the fuss?
Speck explains: “This is the first total solar eclipse on the continental USA since 1979; and the first one to cross the continent from ocean to ocean since 1918. There was one that was visible from Hawaii and Mexico in 1991. Mexico closed the border with the U.S. to anyone without hotel reservations because they could not handle the volume of people.”
Speck says this is the first total solar eclipse to be visible from only the U.S. since before 1776. For Missouri in particular, this is the first total solar eclipse since 1869, and for some parts (including St Louis, Ste. Genevieve and Perryville) it is the first since 1442.
“There is a total solar eclipse approximately once a year somewhere on the planet,” Speck says, “but the zones of visibility are often over water or over countries which are considered unsafe for travel by westerners.”
According to Speck, the path of totality runs from the Pacific coast of Oregon to the Atlantic coast of South Carolina. She said approximately 12 million people live on the path of totality, while another 88 million live within 200 miles.
“The Total Solar Eclipse,” Speck says, “has the potential to be the biggest public space science event since the moon landings.”
Along with those previously listed, you can find more information on NationalEclipse.com and stay up-to-date with happenings on their events page.