Some events only come around once in a lifetime and there is an exciting one occurring just around the corner! On Monday, August 21st, 2017, a total solar eclipse makes its way across the United States. A total eclipse of this type has not happened in the continental United States since 1979!

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon crosses in-between the earth and the sun and either partially or fully blocks our view of the sun. One would think these happen all the time; however, the orbit of the moon is on a tilt so solar eclipses only happen a few times a year.

Total solar eclipse on September 1st, 2016. Picture by Scoolasse.

Most people never experience totality because the path it makes is usually narrow and obscure. This is exactly why the eclipse in August is such a big deal. The path of totality is crossing the United States from Oregon to South Carolina and will be passing through 13 states – including a few on our Mississippi River.

Less than 2% of the world’s population have ever experienced a total solar eclipse. In the past, an eclipse of this magnitude was said to have driven sane men mad as this event could not be explained! Just imagine walking in the middle of the day and in a matter of minutes the sky goes pitch black, the temperature drops, flowers close and all you see in the sky is a bright ring of solar flares!

View of Totality. Picture by Luc Viatour /

Many people are planning to use this event as an extraordinary opportunity to connect with the majestic Mississippi River! The path of the “Totality”  from the Eclipse will be passing over the Mighty Mississippi in some great locations like Cairo, IL and Cape Girardeau, MO. Half of St. Louis will see totality, and the other half will miss it by just a sliver. Also, just off the River, you can watch the event in Paducah, KY or Carbondale, IL.

I hope you are just as excited as I am about this upcoming eclipse! However, there are a few important items to think about as you prepare for the big day:

Simple solar eclipse glasses you will need to view the coming eclipse! Picture by Eclipse Glasses.

  • Solar safe glasses: These inexpensive glasses are paper and similar to those 3-D glasses you wore as a kid, but eclipse shades are made with a film 1000 times stronger than sunglasses. They protect your eyes while looking at the sun. NEVER look at the sun during an eclipse without protective gear! You may remove your glasses during totality but only as long as no part of the sun is showing. Totality lasts anywhere between a few seconds up to almost three minutes in places like Paducah, KY.
  • Be aware of local weather: If you are traveling to see totality, you want to be aware of weather patterns that could cause you to lose sight of the eclipse. Heavy cloud cover will prevent you from seeing the eclipse so have a weather plan ready!
  • Map of eclipse: You can also buy a map that shows the path of the eclipse as well as times and cities where you can watch this historic event!

For more information and video about this truly historic event on the Mississippi River, go here! It is really important for you to begin planning right away as many hotels, cabins, and campsites in these areas are filling up quickly.


Wishing you a fun and safe Solar Eclipse,


Your friend and fellow River Citizen on the Lower Mississippi River!


Jessie Demster

TN/KY 1 Mississippi Outreach Assistant