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August eclipse

Angela Speck.

On Aug. 21, in the middle of the day, sunlight will turn to pitch blackness during the first total solar eclipse Missouri has seen since 1869. Columbia hasn’t witnessed one since 1442 and won’t have another chance until 2500. That’s why Angela Speck, co-chair for the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Eclipse Task Force, has been preparing for this event for the last five years.

Total eclipses, when the moon blocks the sun completely, occur about once a year, says Speck, a professor of astrophysics at Mizzou. However, most occur over bodies of water so few people see the magical moment when only the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, is visible to the naked eye.

The 2017 eclipse will black out a 3,000-mile stretch of the continental U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina, temporarily darkening the day of 12 million people. Columbians will have two minutes and 36 seconds to view the event. The longest duration, two minutes and 42 seconds, occurs in Carbondale, Illinois.

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Campus: UMC
Key words: MU Campus, Science,
County: Boone