Total solar eclipse | St. Louis Public Radio

Total solar eclipse

This August, people in parts of Missouri and Illinois will be able to see a total solar eclipse, an event that has not been visible in the area since 1442. The next isn’t expected to take place until the year 2505. 

Get prepared and learn more with St. Louis Public Radio's coverage previewing the event. 

Two eclipse chasers at Steampunk Brew Works in Town and Country retrofitted steampunk-style glasses wtih welder's lenses to view the eclipse.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Did you hear? A major celestial event crossed the Missouri and Illinois skies on Monday, Aug. 21. St. Louis on the Air had you covered with a two-hour special during the eclipse.

From 12 – 2 p.m. on Monday, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh brought you a two-hour special program about the total solar eclipse, discussing the cultural, scientific, economic, and celestial phenomena.

Joyetta White looks up at the partial eclipse with classmates at Long International Middle School in St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People gathered at schools, a rural airport and downtown St. Louis on Monday seeking a good view of the total eclipse. The celestial event reached totality (when the moon completely covered the sun) at about 1:15 p.m. St. Louis time, darkening the skies except for what looked like a very bright headlight overhead.

Eclipse glasses for sale at Acee's gas station and market in Goreville, Illinois.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It is indeed dark during the day as a total solar eclipse makes its way from Oregon to South Carolina. Eleven states are in the path of total darkness.

Follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.

Saint Louis University Robert Pasken and his graduate student Melissa Mainhart perform a test run of a weather balloon that they plan to launch during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Historically, total solar eclipses have been used to make important scientific discoveries. One in 1919 validated Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Another in 1868 led to the discovery of helium, the second most common element on the planet.

An employee sits in a crisis communications center for Saint Louis University Hospital. The red phone acts as a backup communication system, and the white boards track hospital resources in an emergency.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Saint Louis University Hospital's emergency services director, Helen Sandkuhl, has spent the last couple of weeks reviewing emergency plans, checking equipment and preparing a crisis communications center in a hospital conference room.

Visitors are descending on the St. Louis region to view the total solar eclipse on Monday, so Sandkuhl and other emergency room officials expect to be busier than usual.

A list of suggested items to pack for eclipse chasing, which include a hat, sunscreen, water bottle, picnic blanket, a book on eclipses, snacks, a roll of toilet paper, eclipse glasses, prescription medicine, a camera and a phone.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

We’re narrowing in on the day of the total solar eclipse, Aug. 21. Ahead of a weekend that’s expected to see a lot of travel to the region, we check in with the Missouri State Highway Patrol for updates on traffic and how to drive during the eclipse, the Missouri Division of Tourism and a Festus-based brewery prepping for the onslaught.

Related: What to expect from the rare solar eclipse

Third-grader Donoven Cruz tries out his eclipse glasses with classmates while looking up at a projector light at Gotsch Intermediate School in Affton. Aug. 17, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

One of the first science lessons of the year for thousands of students in Illinois and Missouri won’t happen in the classroom, but high above it.

Teachers are using Monday’s solar eclipse as an opportunity to inspire a new generation of stargazers, stockpiling special viewing glasses and planning activities and eclipse-specific lessons.

Of course, there’s the other side of the moon: Dozens of schools in the St. Louis area are closing, mostly for safety reasons.

A total solar eclipse in 2006.
Franz Kerschbaum

Like any other day, the sun will rise on Monday. But close to noon in Missouri, the moon will start to cover the sun.

“You’re going to start to see little bits of the sun start to disappear, like someone slowly taking little bites out of a cookie,” said Anna Green, planetarium manager at the Saint Louis Science Center.

The sky will start to go dark quickly, like someone dimming the lights in a room. The air will also become colder, said Angela Speck, astrophysicist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The city of St. Clair, Missouri, is issuing permits to help keep some order when it comes to parking as thousands arrive for the eclipse.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Jason Alexander's family has owned the Budget Lodging Hotel in St. Clair, Missouri, for nearly three decades. During that time, only one event has sparked a customer to book a room years in advance.

Astronomers Studying an Eclipse painted by Antoine Caron in 1571
Wikimedia Commons

The furor over the coming solar eclipse is reaching a fever pitch, causing us to ask: has it always been this way? On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the ways eclipses have been viewed in the past.

From Babylonians’ scientific tracking of eclipses to frequent myth and lore about the relationship between solar eclipses and animal feeding habits, we discussed how old views of solar eclipses impact our viewing of them today.

A strip of paint that runs through Rainmaker art studio in Makanda, Illinois is meant to mark the line of totality for the upcoming eclipse.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Adam Kirby stood in the path of totality, deep in the hills of Southern Illinois, and acknowledged that he has absolutely no idea how many guests to expect on his farm on Aug. 21 for the Great American Eclipse.

He’s turning this field of dreams — just outside the village of Goreville — into a one-day-only parking lot for eclipse-watchers: Ten bucks for cars and trucks; $30 for RVs.

Don't know how to view the eclipse or what to look for? Never fear! We've assembled a panel to teach you how to become an amateur astronomer.
J Lippold | Flickr

So you’ve never viewed a solar eclipse before? Not surprising, unless you’re a severe umbraphile or were alive 148 years ago. That was the last time a total solar eclipse passed over Missouri on Aug. 7, 1869.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, a week before the total solar eclipse that will pass over the southern parts of the St. Louis region, we discussed how to view the eclipse as an amateur astronomer. What should you be looking for? What kind of experimentation can you do? How can you help your kids experience the eclipse?

St. Louis Public Radio’s guide to the eclipse

Aug 14, 2017
Nakae | Flickr

Don Marsh to Host Two-Hour St. Louis on the Air on August 21

The gift shop at the state historic site is selling commemorative T-shirts but is out of eclipse glasses. August 11 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Several hundred people are expected to show up at Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville on Aug. 21 to observe the solar eclipse from the “City of the Sun,” even though the historic site is just outside the path of totality.

The state historic site will experience about 99.5 percent totality and is not planning special events that day, said assistant manager Bill Iseminger.

He expects that most of the eclipse-watchers will want to climb the 156 steps to watch from the top of Monks Mound, the largest of the mounds built by the ancient Mississippians between 1000 and 1400 A.D.

12-year-old Alex Frye checks his special viewing glasses prior to viewing the partial solar eclipse from a highway overpass in Arlington, Virginia, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.
Bill Ingalls | NASA

We all know staring directly in the sun is a bad thing, right? But, on the other hand, we’re told that viewing the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will be an awesome sight to behold. How do you reconcile the two?

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed proper eye safety for the upcoming eclipse and answered your questions. Joining the program to share their insight were Dr. Carl Bassi, director of research for the UMSL College of Optometry, and Dr. Larry Davis, dean of the UMSL College of Optometry. 

Here’s what you need to know:

Janet Kavandi, a Missouri-born astronaut, will be in Jefferson City with NASA for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.
Gus Chan | The Plain Dealer

Come Aug. 21, NASA will be in Jefferson City, one of seven cities chosen from which to broadcast a live feed of the total solar eclipse.

Janet Kavandi, a Missouri-born former NASA astronaut and director of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, will join the broadcast from Jefferson City. Kavandi has logged more than 33 days in space with 535 earth orbits.

The longest time of solar eclipse totality will be viewed in southern Illinois come Aug. 21.
vbloke | Flickr

The Aug. 21 total solar eclipse event creeps ever closer. While the path of totality crosses quite a bit of Missouri, and even part of St. Louis, the longest duration of the eclipse will actually be in southern Illinois. 

In Murphysboro and Makanda, totality will last for a whopping two minutes and 40 seconds. At one point in the Shawnee National Forest, just south of Carbondale, eclipse viewers will see totality for two minutes and 44 seconds. According to eclipse enthusiasts, those seconds make a big difference.

Saint Louis University Robert Pasken and his graduate student Melissa Mainhart perform a test run of a weather balloon that they plan to launch during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

It's not just astronomy nerds who are preparing for the total solar eclipse in August. Scientists are also using the event, which has not occurred in Missouri since 1442, as an opportunity to gather data. 

St. Louis is one of 30 locations across the U.S. where scientists will launch large balloons into the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere during the eclipse, as a part of the NASA and NSF-sponsored Eclipse Ballooning Project. On Tuesday afternoon, Saint Louis University and Jefferson College researchers performed a test-run of their balloon, which will carry a radiosonde, an instrument that measures wind speed, humidity, barometric pressure and other conditions of the atmosphere. They will also be using Ameren Missouri's network of weather monitoring stations, called Quantum Weather

David Baron, the author of "American Eclipse," discussed the upcoming total solar eclipse that will pass over parts of St. Louis on Aug. 21.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Author David Baron is not kidding when he says he’s been looking forward to the total solar eclipse that will occur on American soil on Aug. 21, 2017, for the past 19 years. In 1998, he saw his first total solar eclipse. He’s now seen five different total solar eclipses around the world … but never one over his homeland of the United States.

A total solar eclipse seen from Australia in November 2012.
Romeo Durscher | NASA

This August, people in parts Missouri will be able to see a total solar eclipse, an event that has not been visible in the area since 1442. The next isn’t expected to take place until the year 2505.

To prepare the public for this once in a lifetime event, local astronomy groups have organized the St. Louis Eclipse Expo this weekend. The event will feature about 80 exhibitors, vendors selling astronomy equipment, photography workshops and talks on the history and science of eclipses.