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Excitement builds for 2017 Kansas City total eclipse; plan now for solar spectacular

Joseph Wright, operations manager for the Warkoczewski Observatory at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, made adjustments Sunday to a large reflector telescope to focus in on solar flares for guests to view. The observatory held an event Sunday that included a presentation about next year’s total solar eclipse that will be visible in Kansas City.
Joseph Wright, operations manager for the Warkoczewski Observatory at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, made adjustments Sunday to a large reflector telescope to focus in on solar flares for guests to view. The observatory held an event Sunday that included a presentation about next year’s total solar eclipse that will be visible in Kansas City. Special to The Star

It will only last for a couple of minutes but it promises to be spectacular.

Next year’s total solar eclipse, on Aug. 21, will traverse the entire United States from Oregon to South Carolina. The southern line of totality bisects Kansas City, but 100,000 people or more are expected to gather at Rosecrans Memorial Airport in St. Joseph, which is considered a sweet spot for viewing.

Dozens of sky gawkers gathered Sunday at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to learn about the eclipse and receive tips for viewing it.

“It’s a life-changing experience for some people,” said Joseph Wright, operations manager for the Warkoczewski Public Observatory on the roof of Royall Hall on campus.

“It’s the most awesome natural phenomenon that you will ever see in your life,” promised Jackie Beucher, vice president of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City and chairwoman of the eclipse committee.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the sun, throwing the Earth into an eerie darkness. It is safe to look at a total eclipse without protection, but not at the partial eclipse that comes before and after. For that, special glasses are required, or sun filters may be used on telescopes or binoculars.

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Wright encouraged people to plan ahead for the early afternoon event.

“Have a party, a solar party,” Wright encouraged. “Don’t worry about taking pictures. Let the professionals do that.”

He also suggested having a backup viewing location in mind in case the sky is forecast to be cloudy at your first choice.

“You have a year. There’s still time to plan.”

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC

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