People across the country are preparing for a total solar eclipse on August 21st, and parts of the St. Louis area are prime locations to see it. On August 21st a solar eclipse will be visible in the United States. But for a 70 mile path from Oregon through the St. Louis area and to South Carolina, a more spectacular total solar eclipse will be visible. Only in the total eclipse will day turn to night, if only for a brief moment. Depending on your location the total solar eclipse can last a few seconds to a maximum of two minutes and forty seconds. The partial eclipse will last much longer and will require special glasses to view. The last time a total solar eclipse occurred in the greater St. Louis area was 1442.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the eclipse:
What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse is when the moon passes in a direct line between the earth and the sun. The view of the sun from earth is then blocked by the moon. It looks like the moon is taking a bite out of the sun. But in a total eclipse, the moon covers all of the sun except for the faint glow of the sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona, that will glimmer over the edges of the moon. For a small path across the earth, the moon blocks the entire sun, which is a total solar eclipse. The "totality" as it's called won't last long, from a few seconds if you're barely in the path to a maximum of 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Check your location on this map, click here.
When will it be taking place?
Monday August 21st. In the St. Louis area the times will vary, but generally speaking the partial eclipse begins a little after 11:45 AM, the total eclipse (if you're in the path) roughly around 1:15 PM. For specific times and to find out if your location is in the path of totality, click here.
Will you be able to watch with an exposed eye?
The partial eclipse should NEVER be viewed without special eye protection. It is only during the total eclipse (if you are in the path of totality) that you can view the eclipse with no special eye protection.
Where is the best location to see the eclipse?
The path of the total solar eclipse cuts right through the St. Louis metro and will miss downtown by hundreds of yards. So location is key. Areas west and south of downtown are in the path. And the more direct you are in the path of the total solar eclipse, the longer it will last (though it is still 2 minutes and 40 seconds at best). Prime viewing will be in areas like St. Clair, MO, Festus, MO, Carbondale, IL, Chester, IL, Sullivan, MO, Jefferson City, MO and Columbia, MO. Click here for a map.
How rare are total solar eclipses?
They actually occur once about every 18 months, but much of the path is often over oceans. The path is only 70 miles wide, so it is rare to occur over the United States, let alone so near St. Louis. The last time a total solar eclipse was viewable in St. Louis....St. Louis didn't exist as it was 1442. The last time we had one in the continental US was 1979, but that was a small part of the country in the extreme northern and northwestern US. As rare as it is to have a total solar eclipse in our backyard, it just so happens we have one more opportunity on April 8th 2024. That path will be a bit farther south of St. Louis but will cut right through Carbondale for the 2nd time in 7 years.
Are there going to be viewing parties in the St. Louis area?
There are going to be many viewing parties in the St. Louis area. For a list, click here. Communities from DeSoto to Carbondale will also be throwing their own parties.
What will traffic be like? How busy will our area be on Eclipse Day?
There's no way to know, this is unprecedented to have a total solar eclipse so near St. Louis. Many other cities will share the influx of visitors such as Kansas City, Nashville, TN, Portland, OR, Atlanta, GA and Charleston, SC. However many people may decide to drive to a location on eclipse day, which could result in major traffic headaches.
For more information about the upcoming eclipse, click here.
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