Eclipse enthusiasts share tips for viewing Monday's event

We're less than a week away from the April 8 total solar eclipse that's scheduled to follow a diagonal path across North America, sweeping over Ozark County around midday. For those in the path of Monday's big event, the sky will gradually grow darker as the shadow of the moon slides across the face of the sun, and for a few magical moments, the sky will darken and day will become night. 

People who've experienced a total solar eclipse say it's an extraordinary event, something not to be missed. 

Two of those people, Ozark County residents Jane and Andy Elder, drove 200 miles to the Port Hudson Lake Conservation Area, a site north of Highway 50 between Jefferson City and St. Louis, to experience the total solar eclipse in 2017. Afterward, Jane described it in her online blog, Ozark Road, as "an almost holy experience." (See the Elders' eclipse-watching story in the Jan. 17 edition of the Times: "In the path of totality.")

This time, the path of Monday's eclipse will pass right over Jane and Andy's house north of Gainesville. An eclipse-timing tool on says the eclipse will begin in Gainesville at 12:36 p.m. and will last two hours and 36 minutes. Gainesville will see one minute and 38 seconds of eclipse totality, when the moon's shadow completely covers the sun, beginning at 1:54 p.m. 


The 115-mile-wide path of Monday's eclipse will enter North America at Mazatlan on Mexico's Pacific Coast at 11:07:25 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and travel some 4,000 miles diagonally across the continent until exiting over Newfoundland, Canada, a little more than two hours later at 5:13 p.m. Atlantic Daylight Time, according to online sources. To find the eclipse schedule at a specific site along the path, visit

News sources report that several communities in the path of the eclipse are expecting huge crowds. West Plains is one of them; the town is hosting a four-day "Party in the Path" festival Friday through Monday (visit "Eclipse West Plains" on Facebook for details).  


Things to know for the best eclipse-viewing experience

The Times collected news and online advice about eclipse-viewing and added tips from Jane Elder to create this list:

• Consider beforehand how much time you want to spend watching the eclipse and plan accordingly, especially if you'll have young children with you. Do you want to experience the whole event or a shorter amount of time around the period of totality? Jane recommends getting set up in time to see the beginning of the eclipse, even if you don't plan to stay for the total time. "The sun will begin to get dimmer," she said. 

• If you're watching the eclipse in a public place, confirm restroom locations and use them before you choose your eclipse-watching spot, says Jane. On the other hand, if you're uncomfortable in crowds, "find a place with fewer people or where you can be alone," she said, adding, "If you're in a group, be polite." 

• Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, of course, and bring a brimmed hat. Bring water too, plus snacks if you'll be there for the longer time. 

• Bring special, NASA- or AAS-approved eclipse-viewing eyeglasses, available from local stores or online sources and wear them to look at the sky as the moon slides across the sun. “Take notice of how the dimming light changes the colors around you," Jane said. But be sure you have the glasses on when you look at the sky. 

• "During totality, take off the glasses," says Jane. "The darkness you experience will be like none other you have ever had. The birds will be quiet. Listen. . . . It is a very heart-stopping moment." 

• After totality, as things gradually go back to normal, take your time to reflect on what you experienced, Jane says. 


Notice the shadows

Dora native Monte Roy, who now lives west of St. Louis with his wife, Patti, is also a fan of viewing eclipses. He shared his eclipse-viewing story in the Jan. 24 edition of the Times, saying he stayed home from work to photograph the 2017 eclipse from the deck of their home ("Remembering the 2017 eclipse and planning for the next one"). 

Asked about recommendations for 2024 eclipse viewers, Monte said, "One of the coolest things is the way the shadows appear during the period before and after totality. They take on the crescent shape of the sun at that moment. If you can find a spot where sunlight filters through the trees through open spaces, you can see little crescent shapes where it hits the ground." 

Monte remembers an eclipse that happened during his elementary years at Dora School when his teacher helped the students make little cardboard boxes for safely watching the eclipse. Instructions for making a similar box from a cereal box or shoebox can be found online by doing a Google search for "pinhole projector eclipse viewer."


The most worrisome possibility. . .

Monday's big event will be our last chance to see a total solar eclipse for quite a while. Internet sources say no one in the continental United States will see another one until 2044. And the next total solar eclipse that will be visible from Missouri won't happen until the year 2178.

Because these events are pretty rare, some eclipse viewers are traveling big distances and perhaps spending lots of money to stay in lodging far from home. But Ozark Countians can simply step outside on Monday and (with eclipse-viewing glasses in place, of course) look up to watch the extraordinary event. Many of us are eagerly looking forward to doing just that.

Unless, of course, the weather doesn't cooperate. At press time, The Weather Channel ( was showing a 10-day forecast that predicts a 34 percent chance of rain for April 8 in this zip code. 

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423