Missouri’s second total solar eclipse in seven years will pass over parts of southeast Missouri on Monday. Residents are warned to wear glasses that have not expired and are designed to safely view the eclipse.

Mike Reed is an astronomer at Missouri State University who helps to shine the light on the eclipse phenomenon.

“It, of course, is this alignment between the moon, the sun, and the earth,” he said. “It’s kind of an interesting thing to think, the moon goes around the earth basically once a month. Why don’t we have eclipses once a month? It’s because the moon, when it goes between us and the sun, typically goes a little bit above, or a little bit below.”

But unlike the total solar eclipse from seven years ago, Reed said this one will be “better.”

“First of all, the moon is slightly closer in its orbit,” Reed said. “So, this eclipse is about 90 seconds longer than the last one. So, this is pretty much about as long as eclipses get. They don’t get too much longer than this one, and we are seven years on from our last one, and the sun is at a higher level of activity.”

Total solar eclipses happen about every 18 months, but for a specific location, a total solar eclipse will happen once every several hundred years.

Wearing eclipse glasses that are authentic, properly rated, and not expired, will prevent serious damage to the eyes.

“If there’s ever a part of the sun that’s exposed, you don’t want to look at it because the light is simply too intense, and really bad for your eyes,” he said. “You know, your eyes focus light and you’re focusing that extra intensity. It’s sort of like taking a magnifying glass and burning a hole in paper.”

Solar eclipse glasses should be compliant with the international safety standard for eclipse glasses. Additionally, public libraries are handing out verified solar eclipse glasses.

You won’t go blind if you’re not wearing eclipse glasses, but solar retinopathy, which comes from staring at the sun for prolonged periods of time, could burn on your retina. But during totality, you can take off the special glasses.

“That’s the only way to see the solar corona,” he said. “Otherwise, those special glasses are sort of like welding glasses in that they really reduce the light because the sunlight is so intense. But if you’re at totality at only 100% totality, you can take off the glasses during that time and actually look at the solar corona.”

The eclipse begins at 12:35 p.m. and reaches totality at 1:55 p.m.

“It will get 10-15 degrees cooler,” he explained. “So, it will become nighttime. Quite often, that can build up, you know, get some extra wind. The night critters will start to make their night sounds and it’s really quite, it’s a bit surreal actually.”

Reed said that the eclipse could impact the chance for thunderstorms. He said the warm ground temperature could stir up thunderclouds and completely change the weather for the short duration of the eclipse.

Depending on the region, the portion of the sun covered by the moon will range from about 85% to nearly 100%.

“The eclipse happens at, basically, 2 p.m. is totality, right around there for most of Missouri,” he said. “Take a late lunch hour. Take a couple of hours and try to get somewhere to really experience it because, in the continental United States, we’re not going to have anything like this for a long, long time.”

It will be another 20 years – August 23, 2044 – before the next total solar eclipse will be seen from the contiguous United States.

The next total solar eclipse in Missouri will not happen until 2505.

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