A Total Solar Eclipse Is Coming in 2017 — and St. Louis Is a Top Spot to See It



The first total solar eclipse to pass over the U.S. in 38 years will be here this August — plunging day into night as the moon completely blocks the sun. And we're in luck in Missouri: The area just south and east of St. Louis will be one of the very best places to witness it.

Indeed, while the total solar eclipse on August 21 is expected to darken skies from Oregon to South Carolina, nowhere in the country will experience the perfect lineup of sun, moon and earth for a longer period of time than Giant City State Park, which is just southeast of Carbondale, Illinois. The eclipse totality there will be two minutes and 41.6 seconds.

But you don't have to drive to Carbondale to experience some serious eclipse action. While everything depends on cloud cover, the area just south of St. Louis is expected to be prime viewing territory. Michael Zeiler, of the website Great American Eclipse, says that St. Louis residents are well-positioned to get maximum exposure. The central city will experience the eclipse for about 10 to 30 seconds, and simply by driving about 30 minutes south on I-44 or I-55, you can increase that to as much as two minutes.

Missouri cities along the prime-viewing belt include Ste. Genevieve, Herculaneum, DeSoto, St. Clair, Columbia and Jefferson City, Zeiler adds. "I'd advise people to check the weather report the day before and drive to a spot near the center line of eclipse with the best weather prospects," he says, referencing the map above.

The event is expected to happen locally just after 1:15 p.m. But its impact goes far beyond that. With visitors coming to the U.S. from as far as Europe, we could see a real financial boost. St. Louis, Zeiler says, "will receive a substantial impact in tourism because it will be an excellent staging area for people traveling to see the eclipse. While hotel rooms in towns near the centerline will be (or already are) sold out, it is an easy drive from St. Louis for these eclipse tourists. I'd expect practically every hotel room in St Louis to sell out for this event and many visitors will be introduced to the St Louis area."

For precise coordinates, check out this interactive map from NASA. And then start making plans. May we suggest a pair of eclipse viewing glasses? Or perhaps downloading "Total Eclipse of the Heart"?

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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