Next Monday, the noontime sky over Jackson and the surrounding area will turn black as a moonlit night when the moon passes in front of the sun, creating a total solar eclipse.
The last total eclipse viewable in Missouri took place in 1869, nearly 150 years ago, but it only passed over the northeast corner of the state.
The upcoming eclipse is unique in that it occurs exclusively within the United States, travels across a large swath of the country and occurs over land for a total of 94 minutes.
Totality in the U.S. will begin at 10:15 a.m. in Salem, Ore., the first land mass it touches, and concludes in Charleston, S.C. at 2:49 p.m., the last land mass it touches, making the Great American Eclipse one of the longest observed in history.
After leaving the eastern coast of the U.S., the moon’s shadow passes over most of the Atlantic before ending at sunset near Africa.
In Jackson, the moon will start to cross the sun’s path about 11:52 a.m., totality will occur about 1:20 p.m., and the eclipse will end at 2:49 p.m.
The Cash-Book Journal and SEMO Media are sponsoring a viewing party at Pavilion No. 1 in Jackson City Park (by the old tennis courts) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Plan your lunch hour so you can join the fun with others in the park viewing the eclipse.
You are welcome to bring your own lunch or buy a meal from the Kébler’s Kitchens food truck. D.J. Greg Vaughn will provide music. Jackson commemorative eclipse t-shirts will be available for sale. Eclipse viewing glasses will be given away to the first 50 attendees. After that, there will be some available to buy at a minimum fee. “They are getting scarce as hen’s teeth around here, so we are glad we could make some available,” said CBJ Editor Gregory Dullum.
“We heard about the viewing parties at the Cape SportsPlex and the University, and we wondered why Jackson had no official viewing party,” Dullum continued. “We wanted to provide a place for our Jackson residents to get together on their lunch hour, have some fun, and experience a once-in-a-lifetime eclipse.”
Riverside Regional Library in Jackson will have a viewing party. Although the library sold out of eclipse glasses, it will have a telescope set up that will project the eclipse. A program will show how to make a pinhole projectors that can be used to safely view the eclipse without looking directly at the sun.
Free t-shirts will be given to the first 200 people who arrive at the Cape SportsPlex, located at I-55 and Highway 61. The first 2,000 attendees there will get free viewing glasses. This party also will have food and music.
Classes will be cancelled during the eclipse at Southeast Missouri State University. Several activities are planned on campus, as we have reported in past issues of the CBJ. Students and the public will gather to view the eclipse at Houck Stadium.
The Missouri Conservation Department invited residents to view the eclipse in their conservation areas to see how wildlife reacts when the sun disappears in the middle of the day.
Campgrounds and motels in the area are expected to be packed and the Highway Patrol cautions people to drive carefully as heavy traffic is expected in areas affected by the eclipse. Drivers are reminded to turn on their headlights as the sky darkens and not to rely on their automatic headlight setting.