What You Need to Know About the Solar Eclipse In Kansas City

What You Need to Know About the Solar Eclipse In Kansas City

Chances are, you’ve heard we have a solar eclipse headed this way, and whether you’re a scientist or not, you’ve probably caught on to the fact that it’s a pretty big deal.

Why? Total solar eclipses happen every 18 months, but their paths occur all over the globe — from Antarctica to Russia. The last time the contiguous United States saw one was almost 40 years ago; the last time the state of Missouri saw one was in 1869.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon crosses in front of the face of the sun, eventually covering the entirety of the sun for a couple of minute, causing an eerie darkness in the middle of the day.

Scientists remain fascinated with total eclipses because of the chance to view the innermost part of the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona because it resembles a ring, or a crown. This rarely viewed ring is interesting to scientists because a great deal of “space weather” occurs there, which can impact different technologies here on Earth, from degrading or blocking high-frequency radio waves to causing electrical failure and geomagnetic storms.

There’s even a small community across the world known as eclipse chasers, or umbraphiles. Some are interested in the scientific observation, while others chase the emotional experience they call “overwhelming and otherworldly.

““You may intellectually understand the workings of our solar system, and the vastness of time and space, but a total solar eclipse makes you feel it,” Glenn Schneider, an astronomer at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, told KCUR’s Nell Greenfield Boyce.

People are so fascinated by total eclipses that an estimated 1.2 million people are headed to the Kansas City area next week to catch it. Interested in seeing it yourself? Here’s what you need to know:

  • On August 21 the moon will block the sun along a narrow band through 14 states, including Kansas and Missouri

  • The eclipse begins around 11:40 a.m. with totality just after 1 pm

  • Totality is when you’ll be able to take off your glasses and view the darkness covering the sun’s light

  • The time of totality will be brief, and will vary depending on your location

  • St. Joseph, MO is pretty much smack dab in the center of the path of totality

  • The total eclipse there will last an estimated 2 minutes 38 seconds

  • Carbondale, Ill. will have the longest total eclipse at an estimated 2 minutes 43 seconds

  • Areas outside the totality path, including Kansas City, Olathe, OP, Lee’s Summit, and Grandview, will only experience a partial eclipse

  • Atchison, KS, Excelsior Springs, Liberty, Platte City, St. Joseph, Smithville and Weston will experience a totality of two minutes or more

  • You can check your selected viewing location via an online map

  • Several locations throughout the metro area will be hosting viewing parties, though many are already sold out. Others are operating on a first-come, first-serve basis

  • KCUR has provided a good list of viewing parties in the area

  • Expect heavy traffic and possible road closures — MoDOT officials advise arriving at your viewing destination early and staying late

  • They also advise making sure your car has a tank full of gas, and bringing water and food with you

  • And if you haven’t procured them already, make sure you have your safety glasses! You also want to ensure they’ve been purchased from a reputable and legitimate vendor, for the health of your eyes

Other than that, have fun and enjoy the experience scientists and science enthusiasts the world-round call “awe-inspiring.”

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