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St. Louis area residents and visitors are in for a real treat on August 21, 2017. Just after 1pm on this Monday with many schools already in session, the Moon will get between the Earth and the Sun and cast a shadow over Earth. Darkness will fall in the middle of the day. Planets and stars may appear. The temperature could drop 10-15 degrees. Animals and insects may behave like nightfall has set. You may think you have seen a "total" solar eclipse before, but chances are you have not. Most likely you saw a "partial" eclipse like the one that just occurred in 2014. The last total solar eclipse occurred in our St. Louis area in the year 1442 (not a typo). 12 states and 12 million people live directly within the path of totality. Missouri ranks #1 in of the states in the path with 3.4 million of its residents living directly in the path of totality. St. Louis has 1.6 million residents living within the path of totality and is tied with Nashville for the most number of residents living directly within the path.
The August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse is a big deal for a number of reasons. This will be the first total solar eclipse to touch the United States since the 1990s when one occurred on Hawaii, and the first to cover it coast-to-coast since 1918! The Moon’s shadow will pass across the Pacific Ocean onto the coast of Oregon, and then proceed to fall across all of North America (as Earth rotates), finally entering the Atlantic Ocean on the South Carolina border. Many are calling this the "Great American Eclipse."
It is even a bigger deal if you happen to be in the right spot to view a total solar eclipse. Whereas a lunar eclipse is visible for hours by the entire night side of the world, a total solar eclipse can only be experienced in the narrow path of Earth’s surface where the Moon’s shadow happens to fall. In Missouri the eclipse path will start in St. Joseph, pass over Columbia and Jefferson City, De Soto and finally head into Illinois at Cape Girardeau. Unfortunately, the Moon's shadow will only be 70 miles wide which means that not all of St. Louis is in the path of totality. But all of St. Louis is within easy driving distance to experience this life time event.
The St. Louis area, like many regions in our country, will be hosting a number of eclipse related events. Our St. Louis Eclipse Task Force is posting events on our events calendar as received. Today these events are primarily "awareness" events but we expect a number of exciting festivals during the weekend of the eclipse
Hold onto your hats because this is going to be a lot of fun for everyone. Don't forget to plan for the event for yourself. It will be an experience you and your family will not want to miss.
Are you planning an event? If you are organization wanting to post an eclipse related event, please click here.
by Don Ficken, St. Louis Eclipse Task Force
Our St. Louis Eclipse Task Force was contacted by the North American Sundial Society who wanted information about where their members might see the eclipse while they are in St. Louis for their 2017 annual conference. Don Synder, retired Washington University Professor and a St. Louis member of the society, explained that NAAS scheduled their conference in St. Louis specifically so members could see the eclipse. Don expects about 40 members to participate in the annual conference. They plan to charter a bus to visit the location they choose. They have already contacted St. Louis County Parks, Cahokia Mounds and YMCA Trout Lodge in Potosi, MO. The society plans to make their decision in the next few months.
by Trish Erzfeld, Perry County Heritage Tourism.
In anticipation of the Great American Eclipse of 2017 the City of Perryville located 80 miles southeast of St. Louis has officially begun the daunting but extremely exciting task of planning for the August 21st event. Unlike many small rural communities in Missouri, Perryville has a unique front row seat to possibly the greatest solar eclipse the United States will ever see. But with that amazing view comes many decisions to make concerning the great influx of people that will also want to witness this spectacular natural event. With a city population of 8,225 and a county population totaling 18,971, Perryville will be ready to greet their astronomy fans and solar eclipse chasers possibly doubling their county’s population in one day.
Perryville’s Municipal Airport’s located near the banks of the mighty Mississippi River is directly aligned with the eclipse’s path of totality giving lookers the maximum time of two minutes and 40 seconds! Boasting a 7,000-foot airstrip it is sure to attract many astronomers and eclipse enthusiasts from around the nation.
Currently an Eclipse Taskforce has been assembled and are strategizing on the best possible viewing locations, parking areas, shuttle routes, camping sites and various weekend/evening entertainment options leading up to the main event. This taskforce is made up of City and County officials, Economic Development Authorities, 911 Director, Levee District management, local police and sheriff’s departments, school district and county health department personnel. These are the people, experts in their fields that will help us locate the best viewing sites, map the safest travel routes, bringing community awareness and education to our local residents and creating an overall extraordinary experience for all our solar eclipse hunters.
Arrangements have already been made to bring in a guest speaker to educate all of our county’s school faculty during their Back to School Conference in 2016 so that all the teachers and instructors may have plenty of time to work the eclipse event into their 2017 curriculum. We figured that by reaching and informing 500+ educators they will be better able to help as many as 3,500+ students ranging K-12 experience the Eclipse that day creating a moment in their lives they will never forget. We will also be keeping our area residents informed of our plans and events through our local radio station KSGM 980AM through their noon Focus program. This will be a series of radio interviews leading up to the eclipse event. And for our not-so-local solar eclipse visitors a Perry County Eclipse Facebook page will be created in the near future so that they will be as informed as our local residents about weekend events, happenings and eclipse specials.
So as our taskforce works diligently in the following months to develop the perfect Perry County eclipse experience and viewing site, just know if you are looking for a rural Mississippi River valley country setting away from lights, buildings and pavement…Perry County is your place to sit, stand or lay under the sky and witness the most amazing, unique, extraordinary solar eclipse event to grace the Missouri sky.
Sky & Telescope featured the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse on the cover of their January 2016 issue. Inside the magazine were two articles.
The first article was entitled "Why You Need to Plan Now for 2017" discussed the basics for assessing where you might want to go to witness the eclipse including an analysis of past weather patterns for the day.
The second article entitled "Wanted: 90 minutes of Totality" discussed the Citizen Cate Experiment. In the Citizen Cate experiment intends to open a new window through which to study the dynamics of the inner solar corona. The project will cover 2,500 miles using 60 telescopes manned by volunteers.
Many libraries carry Sky & Telescope in their magazine collection. Both articles are worth reading.
by Mark Jones, St. Louis Astronomical Society
How's this for an opportunity. Over 43 million people live in large metro areas outside of the eclipse path where St. Louis is the closest large city. Included in this analysis are most large upper midwest cities and some from Texas. St. Louis could be their destination.
City and distance to St. Louis (miles):
|Des Moines IA||350||611,549|
|Little Rock AR||403||729,135|
An Associated Press article published in March 2015: http://krvn.com/regional-news/nebraska-could-be-destination-spot-for-seeing-solar-eclipse/
This April 9, 2015 story encourages readers to "Prepare for the epic total solar eclipse hitting the US in 2017". They further describe the event as a "A once-in-a-lifetime moment will sweep across the US two years from now. Crave's Eric Mack says its already time to plan your travel and soundtrack".