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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Solar eclipse to pass through Missouri, April 8

Kaden Rhodes
On April 8 the sun, moon and Earth will align creating the phenomenon known as a solar eclipse. These special glasses are required to look at the sun and remain safe.

For the first time in seven years, Missouri will get a glimpse of a total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. Totality, the time in which the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and completely blocks the face of the sun, will last up to four minutes depending on viewers’ location. The eclipse will follow a path from north to south, stretching from Mexico to eastern provinces of Canada and passing through 13 U.S. States in between. 

In Missouri, a stretch of over 115 miles in southern and southeastern parts of the state will be able to view the total solar eclipse from approximately 1:55 p.m. to 2:04 p.m. CDT. Missouri cities including Poplar Bluff, Cape Girardeau and Sikeston will experience total darkness. These locations expect high numbers of visitors from all over the world for the eclipse weekend, as many as 20,000 to 25,000 in locations such as Poplar Bluff, which has been listed as one of the best places to view the eclipse by NASA. Although the path does not pass directly through Columbia, mid-Missouri will experience about 94% of total darkness.

Columbia Public Schools (CPS) has issued a Professional Development day (teacher work day) for April 8th, meaning that school will not be in session during the eclipse. Although not intentionally scheduled, this day off gives students the opportunity to view the eclipse outside of school.

The last total solar eclipse over the U.S. took place in 2017 and was visible to about 12 million people in the path of totality, which was 60-70 miles wide. This April, about 31.6 million people will be in the path of totality, which will be 110-120 miles wide, because the moon is slightly closer to Earth. Additionally, the eclipse will last a minute or two longer than in 2017 because the sun is going into its maximum solar cycle. 

Former RBHS Astronomy teacher and current principal of Glasgow High School in Glasgow, Mo. Rex Beltz said he was a science teacher at RBHS during the 2017 solar eclipse and recalls developing lots of eclipse-related activities for students to prepare for the event. Beltz said compared to Columbia, the Glasgow school district will see mainly a partial eclipse, as it is located 45 minutes west and slightly north of Columbia.

“My activity [in 2017] was called Faster than a Shadow and tried to relay how fast the [astronomical] objects are traveling,” Beltz said. “We think of shadows as not necessarily being fast moving objects, but the moon’s shadow will be traveling at roughly 1,500 mph at its slowest pace to a whopping 10,000,000 mph at its fastest pace.” 

In preparation for this event, organizations at both local and national levels have set up viewing events, created promotional products and begun issuing solar eclipse eye protection glasses. Missouri State Parks offers 20 parks and historic sites where totality can be viewed, such as Elephant Rocks State Park in Belleview, Mo., and about 100 locations where a partial solar eclipse will be visible, such as Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in Columbia, Mo.. These sites have been taking reservations for overnight stays and camping months in advance as their locations provide ideal viewing opportunities for the eclipse.

RBHS Junior Jillian Lybeck-Brown said she plans to watch the eclipse from one of these state park locations. At the time of the last total solar eclipse, she was a fifth grader at Locust Street Elementary School and recalls being able to view totality from just outside her classroom. 

“[For the 2017 solar eclipse], I was issued a pair of eclipse glasses, and all of my fifth grade friends and I sat outside of our trailer classroom to watch the sky,” Lybeck-Brown said. “[This year], I plan on driving to the path of totality in southeastern Missouri […] and viewing the eclipse from Current River State Park.” 

Even though the sun is partially blocked by the moon in Columbia, we still need eye protection gears to view the sun. One should use solar eclipse glasses that comply with the ISO-12312-2 international standard to view the sun and should not look up at the sun with unprotected eyes at any time during the eclipse.”

— Yicheng Guo, MU Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

The University of Missouri—Columbia (MU) Department of Physics and Astronomy will be hosting a solar eclipse viewing party at Lowry Mall on MU campus. Open to the public, the event will offer telescopes and safety glasses to view the eclipse with, as well as a Facebook livestream for those who cannot make it. MU Extension is hosting another free public event at the Jefferson Farm & Garden simultaneously, where eclipse glasses will be available.

Similarly, MU, CPS and Columbia Area Career Center (CACC) teachers will hold a watch party at Bethel Park for viewers, featuring activities, giveaway items and solar telescopes to view the sun. The event is open to the public from 12:30p.m.-3:00 p.m., weather permitting.

MU Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy Yicheng Guo said that the best place to watch the eclipse is from open areas with no obstruction, facing south to southwest. Viewers should look 50 degrees above the horizon, but the most important thing to remember is protective eyewear. 

“Even though the sun is partially blocked by the moon in Columbia, we still need eye protection gears to view the sun,” Guo said. “One should use solar eclipse glasses that comply with the ISO-12312-2 international standard to view the sun and should not look up at the sun with unprotected eyes at any time during the eclipse.”

According to the National Park Service, safe solar filters and glasses should have an International Organization for Standardization, (ISO) 12312-2:2015 certification on the inside and the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product. Any products that are missing this certification information, are damaged or wrinkled or were made before 2015 should not be used. 

The next total solar eclipse over U.S. territory will take place in 2033 but will only be visible from Alaska. Beyond that, the 2044 solar eclipse will pass over Montana and South Dakota, while the next coast-to-coast eclipse will be in 2045. Beltz said the best thing to hope for is good weather to take full advantage of viewing this astronomical event. 

“While eclipses are marvelous things to behold, they are actually pretty common, happening about once a year,” Beltz said. “[However,] most eclipses take place over the ocean, so [being] able to view one taking place over land makes it pretty special. I hope an [astronomical event] like this will inspire others and spur interest and curiosity in the world and beyond.”

Do you plan on watching the solar eclipse? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Contributors
Ava Beary
Ava Beary, Staff Writer
Senior Ava Beary is a staff writer for SouthPaw and Bearing News. She is a member of the RBHS Cross Country, Swim and Dive, and Track & Field teams, as well as the Communications Chair for both Student Council and NHS. In her free time, she's sleeping.
Kaden Rhodes
Kaden Rhodes, Staff Photographer
Junior Kaden Rhodes is a staff photographer for Southpaw and Bearing News. He loves rock climbing, weightlifting and driving.

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