Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Solar Eclipse Part V: Arkansas and Columbia, Missouri

Buffalo River, Arkansas
For the first time in 38 years, the moon will be impertinent enough to block out the sun on Aug. 21, causing a total solar eclipse to occur across the United States. Parts of the South will be in the “path of totality,” or the place where folks will observe a complete eclipse, as opposed to those on the periphery who will only view a partial eclipse. Everyone in Arkansas will be able to view this historic event, but only those close to the path of totality, in the north and northeast sections of Arkansas, will see 95-97 percent of the complete eclipse.

“According to a chart from the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society, the eclipse will begin at approximately 11:43 a.m. in the northwest corner of the state and be over by approximately 2:50 p.m. in the southeast, with peak totality occurring between 1:13 and 1:22 p.m.,” wrote travel writer Katherine Stewart with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. “The cities of Piggott and Corning, which lie closest to the path of totality, will see the fullest eclipse, at 97 percent totality; El Dorado and Lake Village will see 83 percent and 85 percent, respectively.”
Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs
In Missouri, the eclipse follows a diagonal line across the northwest to the southeast part of the state, so naturally that state is expecting thousands of visitors. One hot spot to consider is Columbia in Central Missouri, which is directly in the path of totality, so those in Columbia on the day of the eclipse will witness more than two minutes and thirty seconds of totality beginning at 1:12 p.m. This viewing is one of the longest spans of totality in the country. 

Places to visit in Arkansas
  • Watch parties are planned at Arkansas state parks including Petit Jean, Lake Catherine, Mississippi River and Mount Magazine.
  • The Arkansas-Oklahoma Astronomical Society will host a watch party at the Lake Fort Smith State Park marina.
  • The Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs will present eclipse-themed educational programming and hands-on activities in the hours before and after the eclipse.
  • The Museum of Discovery in Little Rock will host an “eclipnic”— bring a sack lunch, learn about eclipse science, then watch with provided eclipse glasses.
St. Louis Sprockets Stunt Bike Club will
perform at Cosmo Park. 
Photo by Kevin Dingman

Columbia, Missouri, events
The city of Columbia will host a free music festival, viewing parties, a 5k/10k race, a guided bicycle trail ride and other activities. There will be two separate viewing parties, one at the city's Cosmopolitan (Cosmo) Park, 1615 Business Loop 70, and the second at Gans Creek Recreation Area, 3360 E. Gans Creek Road.  

For continually updated details on the Show Me Totality events, location of events, pricing of rides, runs and other activities, check back often at

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is expecting heavy traffic on the day of the eclipse and suggests travelers plan to leave early for their viewing destination, stay put once they get there and leave late to avoid heavy congestion on the roadways after the eclipse. For more recommendations from MoDOT, visit

This story was written with the assistance of tourism officials in Arkansas and Columbia, Missouri.

Cheré Coen is a food and travel writer who loves weird and unusual things, and simply cannot wait until the total solar eclipse.

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