Rural Missouri - July 2017 - 31
Above: Eugene creates a rear projection of the sun using a homemade sun funnel attached
to his telescope. The device allows more than one person to indirectly view the sun and
phenomena occuring on the surface such as sunspots. Right: Using a solar viewer to protect
his eyes, Eugene sights his telescope in as the sun peeks out from behind the clouds. Bottom
right: Solar glasses or viewers should always be used when directly viewing the sun. Photo
courtesy of Mark Margolis via American Astronomical Society and National Science Foundation.
Just as Bob travelled abroad to see the eclipse, Missouri is expected to host
travelers from all over the world. Visitors from England, Germany, Poland,
Israel and the Northwest Territories of Canada have contacted local cities and
chambers of commerce about planning trips.
Although there is international attention cast on Missouri, Eugene says the
eclipse is very much a rural event.
"A farmer in north Missouri who has never seen an eclipse can get in his
truck and drive to totality," Eugene says. "You don't need a passport, an airplane or a boat. This is so very accessible."
Preparation for Celebration
Eugene's wife, Jo Schaper, shares his passion for the eclipse. She grew up
with astronomy lessons taught around the kitchen table and a telescope mount
in her yard.
"If you were woken up at 2 a.m. by my dad, most likely it was 'get your shoes
on, we're going to look at a lunar eclipse,' so this has been a part of my life since
I was very small," Jo says. "I didn't go very far from having my father wake me
up to having my husband wake me up."
As Solar Ambassador Coordinator, Jo is helping the town of St. Clair prepare
for unprecedented crowds during the eclipse. Located on the line of totality as
well as old Route 66 and Interstate 44, the town of roughly 4,500 could swell to
almost seven times that number on Aug. 21.
"There's a mild panic simply because nobody knows what is going to happen," Jo says, adding public safety is the town's chief concern. "The last time
this happened was 1442 and nobody was here then except the Osage. We don't
know if they panicked or not."
The city, chamber of commerce, businesses, churches, schools and other
groups have been planning festivities around the eclipse since last year. The
four-day event is set to feature a parade, picnic in the park, bluegrass music
festival and a Route 66 car show, plus eclipse viewings. Lodging in town is
completely booked - Bob says he was unable to get a room when he checked
in February 2015 - and campgrounds are ﬁlling up, too. Some residents are
even renting out spare bedrooms to visitors.
"I try to get people to think about what it's like (in Columbia) on game day,"
Angela says, "then imagine that over a swath that's 70 miles wide across the
Highway travel isn't the only concern. Since the eclipse crosses the Missouri River eight times and the Mississippi River once, more boaters than usual
combined with commercial barge trafﬁc could present additional public safety
But viewing the eclipse is a fun experience with the right gear and some
advance planning. If you don't have a spot to watch the total eclipse and lodging
is full, public land is always an option. Eugene says 42 state parks and historic
sites are in the path of the total eclipse. Most visitor centers and gift shops have
been selling eclipse glasses and viewers since last spring, and many are planning activities up to and after the big black out. Once that happens, Eugene
expects things to get very quiet.
"When are you going to get a chance to see this again?" Eugene says. "We're
just going to let people experience it and enjoy the phenomenon."
For exact times and locations of the eclipse, visit www.greatmericaneclipse.
org, www.eclipse.aas.org, and eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov. To ﬁnd eclipse events in a
town near you, visit www.visitmo.com/missouri-travel/watch-the-2017-eclipsein-missouri.aspx.
Eclipse Viewing Tips
While the total solar eclipse can be viewed directly with the
naked eye, the partial phases before and after should only
be viewed using glasses and viewers built to certain speciﬁcations. Look for ISO 12312-2 or ISO 12312-2:2015 - those
are standards for safe viewing.
Filtered telescopes along with sun funnels and pinhole cameras
are other ways to indirectly but safely view the eclipse.
Choose your viewing spot in advance, and plan to arrive early
and stay late. Be prepared for congested trafﬁc and longer-thannormal travel times during Aug. 21.
Bring water, a hat and sunscreen. As Eugene says, "Even during
that 10-degree drop, it's still noon in August in Missouri."
JULY 2017 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP