I hope you were able to join us at the Missouri Eclipse Expo last month at the Show-Me Center. It was a fantastic introduction for some and a great refresher course for those of us who have previous eclipse experience. In 2017, Perryville focused a lot on educating our community so that everyone could understand what was special about the eclipse and the expo had some great interactive stations and national speakers who were experts in their fields that revisited a lot of what we experienced during the 2017 total solar eclipse. Understanding eclipses brings more excitement and enjoyment to the day much like being at a sports event and knowing the rules and having the playbook. To understand them more translates into enjoying them more. You’ll Get It!
The main event in a total solar eclipse is undoubtedly viewing its totality. You know, the “main event” or as some consider the “half-time show” when the moon covers the sun perfectly only allowing a faint portion of the sun’s light to wrap around the darkness of the moon creating the awe-inspiring solar corona. You may also be able to see bright pink spots on the edges of the sun. These are gigantic loops of plasma that rise from the sun’s surface, called prominences. Their beautiful hue is the color of glowing hydrogen gas. But there are many other features to be clued in on that you shouldn’t miss.
If you can draw your eyes away from the sun for a few moments, you’ll notice the sky has become quite dark, as if it’s twilight, and other stars and planets are visible. If you look toward the horizon, it is also possible to see daylight form the outside of the moon’s shadow that you will be standing in, like a 360-degree sunset. During totality the planet Venus will be prominent to the west of the eclipsed Sun while Jupiter will be to the east. Only if conditions are their very best will you also be able to see Saturn and Mars.
Baily’s beads happen quickly at the very last second before you can remove your eclipse glasses to view totality and then again immediately after totality cueing you to put your eclipse glasses back on. The diamond ring signifies the last bead of bright sunlight from Baily’s beads that has survived from the deepest valley on the moon’s surface that gives the last flash of sunlight as it extinguishes before totality.
The whole event from start to finish is divided into four phases from the time the moon first seems to touch the sun until it passes completely over until they separate again is known as the four contacts. Perry County’s first contact will happen on April 8, 2024, at 12:42pm. Perryville will experience 3 minutes 46.8 seconds of totality while our neighbors in Altenburg will experience 4 minutes 5 seconds.