Refurnished Thoughts

Discover Vintage America - AUGUST 2017

Chasing the total solar eclipse

You might have noticed in this and our last issue that we seem to have flipped over the "Great American Eclipse" which will occur on Monday, Aug. 21. I'll admit to it. I've been excited about this prospect for a couple of years and never miss a chance to talk it up to anyone who will listen.

2008 solar eclipse at totality. (photo courtesy NASA)

For most of us the opportunity to experience a total eclipse of the sun is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, although I recently learned that another total eclipse will occur in the United States in 2024. Nevertheless, the route that this eclipse will take across North America spans the entire lower 48 states with the path of totality running from Oregon to South Carolina. It will provide an amazing experience for millions of Americans.

For once, the Midwest will be the center of national attention and Missouri offers a particularly rich array of locales for people to view this celestial event. Those seeking the longest lasting experience can find a location near the center of the 70-mile-wide path of totality, although anyone within that swath will experience the total eclipse for at least one minute. Check the website to see the map.

After the eclipse crosses many sparsely populated regions of the American West, the eclipse finally reaches cities with significant populations. St. Joseph on the Missouri River is smack on the centerline and will enjoy a generous 2 minutes and 38 seconds of totality. The southern edge of totality splits Kansas City with the northern suburbs and the nearby city of Independence under the Moon's shadow. However, the citizens of Kansas City would be encouraged to head a bit north to increase eclipse duration from less than a minute to 2 minutes and 38 seconds near Lathrop or St Joseph.

In central Missouri, Lexington, Marshall, Boonville, Rocheport, Columbia, Fulton, Hermann and Washington are well positioned to experience over 2 minutes and 20 seconds of the total solar eclipse. Jefferson City will see 2 minutes and 27 seconds of totality. St. Louis has a similar situation as Kansas City and is bisected by the northern limit of totality. Again, citizens of St. Louis would be smart to head south to Festus or St. Genevieve near the centerline of the eclipse.

And while total solar eclipses happen a few times every year somewhere on Earth, they mostly happen over the ocean or in sparsely populated areas. This time the eclipse can be easily viewed by up to 30 million people.  

Those who have experienced one say that it is a completely unique, bordering on spiritual experience. I want to see for myself, while standing deep in the moon's shadow.

Leigh Elmore can be contacted at
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