Show Me Totality

Mid-Missouri to experience a total solar eclipse


Zach Godbey tries on his solar eclipse glasses.

Madalynn Owens, Yearbook Editor


On Monday, August 21, millions of North Americans will experience temporary darkness in the middle of the day for the Great American Eclipse. Mid-Missouri happens to be in a perfect position to experience the path of totality around 1pm on Monday. All Americans can witness the solar eclipse on this day, but only those in the path of totality, which is roughly 70 miles wide and nearly 3,000 miles long, will be able to see the total solar eclipse. Each area located in the path of totality will experience the total solar eclipse for roughly two minutes due to the rapid speed of the moon’s orbit. The shadow will pass through the entire continental United States in about 90 minutes.

Marsha Tyson, science department head at Battle High School, speaks about the abnormality of the Great American Eclipse, “A solar eclipse is not strange or rare. What is unique about this opportunity is that the path of totality extends across the entire United States from coast to coast. In fact, every person in the [continental] United States will get to experience some part of this eclipse (partial or total). Most total solar eclipses happen in difficult to get to places. Since our Earth is covered with mostly water, most solar eclipses happen where no one gets to experience it. It certainly provides a unique opportunity for people to experience something only .001% of our world’s population have experienced.”
When the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, it blocks our view of the sun and causes a total solar eclipse. When standing in the moon’s shadow, the temperature will drop and the sky will darken. The sun will become a large black circle in the sky and many viewers will be able to see the corona, or the sun’s atmosphere. This layer of gas is invisible under normal conditions. For those not located in the path of totality, they will experience a partial solar eclipse. This occurs because the moon casts two shadows, the umbra and the penumbra. The umbra is the smaller, darker shadow that creates the total solar eclipse. The penumbra is wider and will cover the entire continental United States. Those in the path of the penumbra will see a partially covered moon, the amount of which depends on their location. When watching a partial solar eclipse it is extremely important to wear the solar eclipse glasses at all times because your eyes are still exposed to the sun’s harsh rays.

Local ophthalmologist Dr. Jerry Blair, M.D., Ph.D. of Retina Associates, warns citizens to be cautious during the partial solar eclipse, “It is critical to only wear approved safety glasses with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard from a reputable supplier. Other eyewear and other types of filters are not sufficient and could result in transient or even permanent central vision loss, solar maculopathy.” Blair explains the severity of solar maculopathy and urges people to only take off their safety glasses during the zenith, or peak, of the eclipse.

This is the first eclipse to cross the entire continental United States in almost a century. The eclipse will begin near Newport, Oregon at 10:15am Pacific Time and travel in a diagonal line southeast throughout the country. The path of totality will cross Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The moon’s shadow will leave the continental United States around 2:50pm Eastern Time near Charleston, South Carolina. The next total solar eclipse will occur in Argentina and Chile in the summer of 2019, while the United States will not experience another solar eclipse until April 8, 2024 and then again in 2178.

Luckily, the solar eclipse begins after classes start for the school year and many schools in and around Mid-Missouri have special curriculum centered around the eclipse. Mike Szydlowski, CPS science coordinator, ordered over 30,000 eclipse glasses for the students and faculty of CPS. Many schools outside of the path of totality are taking field trips to Mid-Missouri to experience the total solar eclipse. Totality in Columbia, Missouri will occur at 1:12 pm.

Battle High School is taking full advantage of all the educational opportunities that the solar eclipse provides and has planned many solar eclipse themed lessons and activities for the day of the eclipse.

Tyson, part of the committee that planned the schedule for August 21, commented, “Within our building, I hope for a sense of community. We are all experiencing this event as a Battle family and it will certainly be something we will remember for the rest of their lives.” Tyson hopes that students will take full advantage of being a part of history and experiencing the universe in a unique way.

All classes will be taken outside from 12:30-1:30 pm to monitor and experience the total solar eclipse. Many teachers will also be teaching lessons related to the solar eclipse or monitoring classroom discussions about the eclipse both before and after the natural phenomenon occurs.

Tyson and many other members of the committee are pleased with the final Eclipse Day schedule, “I am really thrilled with the activities we have planned. We have provided a schedule which will balance learning and experiencing,” says Tyson, “The schedule we have built allows all of our students to experience the most notable parts of the eclipse and learn about the eclipse. BHS is experiencing this event like no other high school in town!”

On Thursday, August 17 students were reminded to use their solar eclipse viewing glasses and learn about safety procedures during the eclipse. Even though the sun looks less bright during a partial eclipse, the sun’s rays are still extremely harmful for student’s eyes. Then, on Friday, August 18, there will be a short eclipse documentary shown during Spartan Time to give all students the proper background information needed to fully appreciate the once in a lifetime opportunity.

During the actual eclipse day there will be many school wide activities such as an assembly with various educational activities and short documentaries.

“The Total Solar Eclipse Committee has been working since last January. A group of teachers and administrators have been very thoughtful in planning the day’s events. Our goal was to educate and celebrate this historic event, while making connections to all content areas. This provided us a collaborative opportunity for cross-content connections,” says Tyson, committee member. Many teachers will be crafting eclipse lesson plans that correspond to their subject areas to give students a full understanding of the importance of the solar eclipse in all areas.

The members of The Total Solar Eclipse Committee hope that social media will help excite the students during Eclipse Day. They created a hashtag on Twitter (#SpartanEclipse) that they hope both students and teachers will post to and use. The committee also plans to utilize Snapchat Filters to document the day’s events.

Earlier in the summer, NASA announced that Jefferson City, a mere 30 miles south of Columbia, will be one of the seven cities to host a live broadcast of the solar eclipse. NASA will bring the Journey to Tomorrow trailer, a mobile museum, as well as broadcasting equipment. Jefferson City will be hosting anywhere from 10,000-50,000 more visitors during the day of and the days leading up to the eclipse. The city will be hosting a festival complete with a concert on the Sunday before to engage and entertain the visitors.

Like Jefferson City, Columbia plans to host many visitors coming just to witness the solar eclipse. The University of Missouri has many eclipse themed activities and discussions planned for the weekend. The city of Columbia also has plans to host a festival and viewing party on the day of the eclipse in Cosmo Park. There will be a Totality Run and a Totality Ride on the Sunday before the eclipse to kickoff the celebration as well as a movie in the park on Saturday night. The Totality Music Fest will begin on Sunday, August 20 with food trucks and live music at 12:30pm at Cosmo Park. More information about the festivities in Columbia before the Solar Eclipse can be found on their website at