Plan now for short drive to experience totality of August solar eclipse
It’s said that once you see a total solar eclipse, you’ll travel to the ends of the Earth to see another.
No need to go far during the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. The path of totality runs through the heart of Missouri, only a few hours’ drive away. Northwest Arkansas will see about 90 percent totality, which will be a celestial sight to behold on its own.
The sky will darken as if it’s dusk in the middle of the afternoon. The temperature will drop as the moon travels between the Earth and the sun. Instead of howling at the moon, dogs may howl at the sun.
The total solar eclipse starts in northwest Missouri about 11:40 a.m. Totality is at 1:06 p.m. and lasts just over two minutes. The entire eclipse lasts about three hours. Times are similar in Northwest Arkansas for the partial eclipse.
Nationwide, the 70-mile wide path of totality runs from Oregon to South Carolina. Everyone in the United States mainland will see at least a partial solar eclipse, weather permitting. It was 1918 the last time so much of the nation experienced a solar eclipse.
With totality so close, it’s worth hopping in the car to see such a spectacular event, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people. Towns in the heart of Missouri expect big crowds for the eclipse, so it’s good to plan a trip now.
What better time to for weekend getaway to Kansas City, St. Louis or any mid-Missouri town or state park to see the sights over the weekend, then watch the eclipse on Monday.
A computer search shows that just about every town in mid-Missouri is having a festival or viewing event. How about experiencing the total solar eclipse on a bike? The portion of the Katy Trail near Columbia and Jefferson City is in the path of totality. Expect a lot of company on eclipse day. Missouri State Parks is hosting a Katy Trail bike ride to follow the eclipse. Attendance was capped at 500 riders, and it’s already sold out.
Planning might include buying some solar eclipse viewing glasses or welding goggles. This is the only safe way to look at the eclipse without risk of eyesight damage. Sunglasses are not sufficient. Solar eclipse glasses
aren’t expensive, about $12 to $15 for a package of six pairs.
It’s safe to look directly at the eclipse only if you’re in the path of 100 percent totality and only for those two minutes when the moon totally blocks the sun, according to online
information from NASA. The moment the sun begins to reappear, slip the glasses back on.
Here’s hoping for a sunny day on Aug. 21. Sure, it could be cloudy, but in midsummer chances are good the sky will be clear.
I remember a partial solar eclipse in Northwest Arkansas during the 1980s, if I’m not mistaken. There was a
big solar eclipse viewing party at Lake Atalanta in Rogers. Totality was around 80 or 90 percent. The day grew noticeably darker during the eclipse. The experience was eerie and wonderful.
On Aug. 21, totality is just a short drive away.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NWAFlip