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Tips for Totality

With less than two months to go before the Great American Eclipse comes streaming across our blue Missouri sky the excitement is building beyond anything we could have anticipated. This eclipse will be the most viewed and most highly publicized eclipse ever in history. And with that I am here to tell you that on eclipse day you may or may not have adequate cell service. This is the first total solar eclipse traveling across the United States in such a way that thousands can reach the totality path. And with every excited eclipse enthusiasts comes the ability to document their once-in-a-lifetime experience and the desire to share it with their family a far or friends back home. So, with thousands of additional phone calls, face timing, Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagram posts, Snap Chatting and live streaming, etc. it would be naive of any of us to assume our local cell towers will be able to meet the demand of usage.

Also, consider planning for the eclipse much as you would during a forecasted winter snow storm. That might be a really ‘cool’ thought to have in August when we will probably be in the 90-degree range! So, think ahead. Go get your groceries early in the week. Make sure you get sunscreen, drinks and your eclipse glasses. You may have extra family or friends traveling to come stay with you please don’t forget to get them glasses as well. You cannot view the entire eclipse without solar eclipse glasses only the totality phase! Stop by the gas station and fill up your vehicle to avoid the crowds in the upcoming weekend and run any necessary errands you need to. Consider scheduling routine appointments either before or after eclipse weekend and when you do venture out to enjoy one or more of our many fun-filled events planned for the weekend just allow yourself a little extra driving time.

For those experiencing the eclipse from your home you will be all set to go. Maybe you want to invite family or friends over to enjoy it with you. Experts will tell you that it is highly recommended and an amazing show to experience among others. For those who will be venturing out within the Perry County path, let it be known that we do expect heavy traffic. Especially, on Interstate 55 both north and south bound lanes, the Perryville Blvd. by-pass which travels by the Seminary Picnic Grove and Bank of Missouri Soccer Complex viewing sites, Highway 61 south through Brewer and coming up from the north in the vicinity of the Perryville City Park. Highway 51 from Perryville northeast to the Chester bridge will also have a high volume of traffic using it. In all areas, possible the Missouri Department of Transportation will have flashing caution signs slowing traffic down for the safety of all our eclipse viewers. Please be aware of pedestrian traffic and your surroundings at all times.

This is going to be an amazing experience. Just like the landing of the moon in 1969 was a momentous occasion for the baby boomers’ generation…the Great American Eclipse will be just as memorable for this generation.

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There is no doubt that The Great American Eclipse is an undeniable educational opportunity for our children here in Perry County and it is no surprise that other schools and parents with kids are planning and traveling to our area to experience the eclipse. I have learnt more about astronomy, read more about science and tried to understand more physics in the past two years of planning for this celestial event than I ever thought imaginable.

What we did realize was that as we looked around our community at our businesses and industries, was the need to educate, excite and inspire the next generation to be engaged in the fields of science and math. So, when the Perryville Chamber of Commerce decided that they would host the Perryville Solarfest sponsored by the Perry County Memorial Hospital we knew we wanted there to be the unique opportunity for our businesses, industries and professionals to be able to share the science or math behind their occupation, product or business. From medical to mechanical and from organisms to outer space science surrounds us every day. Some are obvious, some are not and some we just take for granted. If your company is science based or has a key component using science then I would strongly encourage you to consider signing up for a Perryville Solarfest booth and share what cool science or technology is happening here in the Heartland.

Other fun and exciting things will be the chance for you to experience what it is like to take a spin on a zero-gravity chair just like the ones used at Space Camp brought to us by the Republic-Monitor. We all know what a sundial is but with the help of the American Sundial Association we will learn how to read our newly unveiled courthouse sundial commemorating The Great American Eclipse. The Dark Sky Mobile Planetarium will be coming into town thanks to Coldwell Banker & Professional Associates. They will help us locate stars and planets in our summer Missouri sky during a forty-five-minute planetary show and tips on how to find them from your own Heartland backyards.

You will be able create sand sculptures, learn about solar power or pan for gold among many other things in the name of science. There will also be for the first time in Perryville an amazing 573 Chalk Art Festival. Come and watch as chalk artists design and create science inspired pieces of art on our downtown city street transforming it from a busy roadway into multiple magical concrete canvases.

As we continue to plan and prepare for eclipse day you can currently purchase your total solar eclipse glasses for two dollars at the Perryville Area Chamber of Commerce, Perry Park Center or Village Video between now and eclipse day while supplies last so don’t delay.

While the weekend will be buzzing with total solar eclipse conversations, anticipation, and excitement let us take this time and use this weekend to celebrate all thing wonderful, weird and wonderous. Because after all, science makes the world go around...literally.

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As August 21, 2017 and the Great American Eclipse draws closer I would like to reach out to the businesses that I may have not been able to talk to through various Perryville Area Chamber of Commerce eclipse presentations I have done for their membership.

During the eclipse weekend, August 18-21 Perryville will experience not only the Great American Eclipse but also an influx of people wanting to be as close to the center line of totality as possible. With the people will come the need for lodging, gas, food, snacks, groceries and many other items of personal necessities. Use this celestial phenomenon as an economic opportunity and think ahead business wise.

If you are in the hospitality industry plan a special “eclipse” themed dish, appetizer or special cosmic concoction to attract these hungry eclipse chasers. Plan staffing accordingly so that you may deliver the best service and provide the best dining experience possible. Some of our eclipse visitors may not have traveled so far and may be delighted to return and get that down-home Perryville hospitality again with friends in tow.

If you are one of our many convenience markets and/or gas stations then do make sure your shelves are fully stocked for the constant flow that weekend. Ice, drinks, sunscreen along with Missouri and/or eclipse souvenirs will be popular. Special attention may be given to your fueling schedule. If you normally get your tanks replenished on a Monday after the busy weekend I would avoid eclipse Monday due to the heavy traffic we are anticipating.

There are also several hundred-additional rustic and self-contained campsites opportunities available within Perryville and East Perry County. These campers will need groceries and supplies as nobody ever remembers everything!     

Nobody knows your business better than you do. So, take a minute to think of how you can promote your business, your service or your product to the masses that will visit, tour, shop, eat and sleep here during The Great American Eclipse. Moonier’s Florist has flowers named Eclipse and Night Sky. Fandangle has created Perry County eclipse jewelry. Hemman’s Winery will have a special vintage named Eclipse. The Barrens Winery will have their special vintage called Inner Circle and Jackson Street Brewco will be tapping its special eclipse themed brew that weekend. The Perry County Heritage Tourism has Perry County solar eclipse glasses and postcards available at the Perryville Area Chamber of Commerce.

If you feel your business does not fit into the tourism or hospitality industry and would like to be involved in this exciting event then we have some special sponsorship opportunities for the many activities we have planned for Solarfest weekend. Special thanks already to Perry County Memorial Hospital for being our sponsor for Perryville Solarfest, TG Missouri for sponsoring the Perryville 573Mudfest, Coldwell Bankers and Professional Associates for bringing the Dark Sky Mobile Planetarium to our Perry Park Center during Solarfest Saturday and Thrivent’s Tom Frasher for donating Library Telescopes to both of our Perry County Riverside Regional Library branches.  The opportunities are as many as the stars in the Milky Way! Don’t miss yours chance to shine.

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All the preparations, all the excitement and all the planning that is going into this Great American Eclipse event on August 21, 2017 will certainly pay off with an amazing experience. But if you want to see if your special spot or secret location in Perry County is in fact perfect then you want to be there on practice day, April 20, 2017.

When astronomers give the Sun’s position, they use the two celestial coordinates, right ascension and declination. These two values roughly correspond to latitude and longitude on Earth. On August 21st, the Sun’s declination will be approximately, 11 degrees 51’. So, if you want to “practice” observing the Sun where it will be on eclipse day head to your “spot” on April 20th. The Sun’s path through the sky will be the same as it will be on eclipse day.

You will want to be there during the same time as Perry County’s “totality” which will occur at 1:18pm. Maybe you want to set up a filtered telescope, run a test launch or take a few pictures. Maybe you just want to check out a perspective observing site. How far away are any trees? Are you too close to any buildings? Can you see the horizon? The Sun will be high in the sky when the eclipse passes over Perry County so obstacles blocking your view are less likely than someone in Oregon or South Carolina witnessing the eclipse’s sunrise or sunset. That too makes our area highly desirable, no eclipse pun intended. To have trees and obstacles around you will be good as certain phases of the eclipse will show eerie shadows, crisp sharp lines and the leaves on a tree can provide a kaleidoscope of mini eclipses fun to look at just as long as these obstacles do not block your viewing of the Sun and the experience of seeing the Corona.

Anything you want to try on eclipse day you can practice April 20th because it is the closest approximation to what you’ll see on eclipse day. The Sun will rise and set around the same times, and it will cross the meridian (the imaginary north-south line that passes through the overhead point; the Sun crosses it at midday) the same time as on eclipse day.

Here’s something to consider, however. The Sun’s declination doesn’t change all that much from day to day. In fact, if your rehearsal occurs as many as 3 days before or after April 20th you really won’t notice a difference when August 21, 2017 gets here.

My advice, don’t get all caught up in the scientific mumbo jumbo. Just know to scout your location so you have a plan on eclipse day. Whether you’re planning a backyard eclipse party, family viewing destination or public viewing site get you a pair of eclipse glasses go out and look at the sun and prepare to be amazed August 21, 2017.

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It's A Big Deal

It really is a big deal. Totally! On August 21, 2017, the Great American Eclipse will stream across our beautiful Perry County sky casting the moon’s shadow down on us turning our day into night and thousands of people will be looking up at that glorious corona with wonder and amazement. I’m told it is a very emotional experience. Some people will cheer, some will cry and most will be speechless after it has passed not knowing exactly how to describe what they just witnessed.

Eclipses aren’t rare, as a matter of fact most calendar years have at least four eclipses, which is the minimum number of eclipses that must take place in a year. Two of these four eclipses must be solar while the other two will be lunar. It’s easy to get these two types mixed up. An easy way to remember the differences is in the name. The name tells you what gets darker when the eclipse happens. In a solar eclipse, the sun gets darker. In a lunar eclipse, the moon gets darker. And to complicate thing more, there are two different types of solar eclipses, annular and total.

What makes a total solar eclipse seem rare is the ability to get in the shadow’s path to witness the “totality”. In most cases, eclipse chasers find themselves scrambling to find suitable sites for viewing.  Many solar eclipses occur over dense jungles, frozen tundra, unsafe territories or vast miles of ocean. The 2017 Great American Eclipse has a shadow path of approximately 70 miles wide and will start in Oregon and exit out North Carolina making this solar event an eclipse chasers smorgasbord of viewing site options!

But for Perry County this is an extremely rare event. The last total solar eclipse to touch United States soil was in August 1979. Although, many visitors traveled to the Pacific Northwest corner since it would be the last chance to view an eclipse in the United States for almost four decades, it was not directly observable due to the overcast skies.

The last eclipse to cross the United States like this summer’s eclipse, was on June 8, 1918. This solar eclipse swept below Missouri through Arkansas and exited out Florida. Little is mentioned on this solar event as much of our attention was focused on WWI and our troops abroad. In fact, the last time Perry County has ever been shadowed by the moon during a total solar eclipse was in 1442!

With our technology, highways, social media and viewing destination access the Great American Eclipse is poised to be the most viewed total solar eclipse event in astronomy history and Missouri is slated to be the most viewed state along its path by sheer population alone.

It’s said on average, the same spot on Earth only gets to see a solar eclipse for a few minutes about every 375 years. Eclipse events, rare or not, quite possibly could be more about the location. Perry County will get to experience a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 and then again on April 8, 2024 and that my astronomical friends, rare or not, is a really big deal!

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On August 21, 2017 at 1:18pm Perry County will experience a total solar eclipse giving locals some of the greatest viewing time across the United States at two minutes forty seconds of totality.

In anticipation of the Great American Eclipse of 2017 the City of Perryville has officially begun the daunting but extremely exciting task of planning for the astronomical event. Unlike many small rural communities in Missouri, Perryville has a unique front row seat to possibly the greatest solar eclipse the United States has or ever will see. But with that amazing view comes many decisions to make concerning the great influx of people that will also want to witness this spectacular natural event. With a city population of 8,225 and a county population totaling 18,971, Perryville will be ready to greet their astronomy fans and solar eclipse chasers possibly doubling their county’s population in one day.

Perryville’s Municipal Airport’s located near the banks of the mighty Mississippi River is directly aligned with the eclipse’s center path of totality giving lookers the maximum time of two minutes and 40 seconds! Boasting a 7,000ft. X 100ft. runway it is sure to attract many astronomers and eclipse enthusiasts from around the nation.

Perry County’s Eclipse Taskforce was assembled in November 2015 and has been strategizing on the best possible viewing locations, parking areas, shuttle routes, camping sites and various weekend entertainment leading up to the main eclipse event. This unique taskforce is made up of City and County officials, Economic Development Authorities, 911 Director, Park & Recreation Dept., Bois Brule Levee District, police, sheriff and fire departments, hospital, school district, health department, MoDot, Missouri Highway Patrol, Missouri Department of Conservation, regional and state authorities. These are the people, experts in their fields that will help us locate and organize great viewing sites, map the safest travel routes, provide community awareness, education and create an overall extraordinary experience for our local-residents and our solar eclipse hunters.

Starting back in August 2016 National Eclipse Taskforce member and Director of Astronomy for the University of Missouri, Angela Speck spoke during the back to school conference so that all our children could benefit the most out of this extraordinary educational experience.  We figured that by reaching and informing 500+ educators they will be better able to help as many as 3,500+ students ranging K-12 experience the Eclipse that day creating a moment in their lives they will never forget. We will also be keeping our area residents informed of our plans and events through the Perryville Chamber of Commerce website and our local radio station KSGM 980AM’s noon Focus program. This will be a series of radio interviews leading up to the eclipse event. And for our not-so-local solar eclipse visitors a Perry County Eclipse Facebook page and twitter account has been created so that they will be as informed as our residents about weekend events, happenings and eclipse specials.

As our taskforce continues to works diligently in the up-coming months developing the best possible eclipse experience for everyone know that as a singular event of national scale and with a global audience, this event will rival the moon landing of 1969 as a landmark event for a new generation! You’re not going to want to miss this!

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