A Total Eclipse of the Sun: Kansas City’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Moment

Kansas City’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Moment

Once in a lifetime.

This year, on Aug. 21, Kansas Citians get to experience a truly once-in-a-lifetime event. We are in the path of a total solar eclipse, a dazzling celestial event when the shadow of the moon falls on the surface of the earth and is large enough to cover the sun. For a few minutes, we will be able to look directly at the eclipsed sun and watch a truly extraordinary and unforgettable event.

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible in our region was August of 1869, and after 2017, the phenomenon will not occur in our region again during this century. This eclipse is particularly special, as the path of totality runs from the pacific coast of Oregon to the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, and for the first time this century, all continental Americans live within a day’s drive of the path.

Here are some great tips to make the most of this truly once-in-a-lifetime event:

Learn about the solar system before the eclipse.

Learn at home. We remember what we understand. For children, this will be a truly memorable experience, especially if they learn about the eclipse ahead of time. Many Youtube videos  explain the eclipse simply for kids. Also, Aaron Lindsdau’s book Missouri Total Eclipse Guide is an excellent resource with tips for viewing plus history and understanding the eclipse.  For hands-on educational fun, learn about the solar system with the Secrets of Space Kit from Magic School Bus. 

Make a shirt. Learn how to paint your very own shirt to commemorate the Great American Total Solar Eclipse!

Head to Science City at Union Station. Take a trip to Science City and catch a show at the planetarium. Spend time in the Science on a Sphere exhibit, where children learn about Earth and our solar system.

Go on a day trip to Hutchinson, KS. Visit the Kansas Cosmosphere, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Hutchinson (just a few hours west of KC), which chronicles the space race through stories, displays of real spacecraft, hands-on exhibits, live rocket shows and more.

Go stargazing. Enjoy stargazing at Powell Observatory in Louisburg, when they offer public viewing parties on Saturday evenings. There you can view the night sky through the Ruisinger telescope. Or on a Friday night, check out the free Warkoczewski "Warko" Observatory, located on the roof of Royall Hall on UMKC’s campus. Warko is open on most clear Friday evenings through October, beginning at dusk, for viewing of the moon, planets, bright star clusters and nebulae.

Learn at the library. The Mid-Continent Public Libraries are hosting eclipse events throughout the month of July and August. MCPL doesn’t want you to be left in the dark when it comes to experiencing this rare cosmic phenomenon. Join us to learn the science behind eclipses, all about the special effects the moon and the sun create together, and when, where, and how best to safely view it. Click here for information and registration.


Tip: Discover more local Kansas City Area Eclipse Events here.

Be Prepared.

Choose your viewing spot in advance. This eclipse has received so much attention, local visitors bureaus are anticipating record crowds in our area. Hotels in the path of the eclipse have been booked for more than a year, and campgrounds are reserved. Fortunately, Kansas Citians live in the path, so we all have a great place to sleep at night! However, Kansas City is not in the best place for viewing. The most ideal places are right in the center of the path, many within an hour of KC. Use the app Eclipse 2017 to help find a spot.

Bathroom breaks. The eclipse will last from one to two-and-a-half minutes, depending on where you view it. Make sure everyone uses the bathroom beforehand and is prepared to experience the event.

Fuel up and stock up. The excitement surrounding the eclipse means heavy traffic. Allow plenty of time to drive to your viewing spot, keep the tank full and pack water, snacks and sunscreen.

Protect your eyes. Eclipse glasses (available on Amazon.com for about $2) enable you to view the eclipse safely. Ordinary sunglasses do not offer enough protection. Order your eclipse viewing glasses in advance. NASA offers great practical tips for safe viewing at Eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/safety.html.

Consider NOT taking photographs. The eclipse will be over before you know it. Cameras cannot capture the magic that the naked eye will experience. Take in the experience and let the professional photographers capture it—then buy one of the souvenir magazines or newspapers with professional shots after the event. Experience the moment to the fullest.

Take advantage of one of the special events happening in the path of the eclipse:

  • Kansas City, MO. Science City at Union Station is hosting a Solar Eclipse Watch Party. Enjoy interactive, hands-on themed programming. Activities Include: Eclipsed Themed Science on a Sphere Shows, Maker Studio Solar Programming, Solar Telescope and projection viewings from the new Haverty Family Yards, free solar glasses giveaways to the first 1,500 guests. Entry into Science City includes admission to the Planetarium, and special guest, meteorologist Mike Thompson from Fox 4.
  • Kansas City, KS. The Kansas City T-Bones are having a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party from 11:30-1:30 at Community America Ballpark.  First 200 people receive complimentary tickets for that night’s home game.  Food available for purchase.  Blankets welcome.
  • Johnson County, KS. Viewing sites include Antioch Park, Shawnee Mission Park and Heritage Park. Food trucks and Water One will be available at each location. First 200 guests at each location will receive viewing glasses.
  • Excelsior Springs, MO. Participate in a four-day Solar Eclipse Festival with barbecue, live music, activities and science programming. Watkins Mill State Park is recommended for viewing. VisitExcelsior.com/SolarFest
  • Lathrop, MO. Their Mule Days Festival is celebrating 150 years of the city’s history with a four-day celebration perfectly timed for the eclipse. Enjoy barbecue, competitions, vendors and carnival. LathropEclipse.com
  • Lexington, MO. This historic town will celebrate “The Day of the Dark” on Aug. 21 with specials at local restaurants and sites. Viewing is recommended at the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site. DayOfTheDark.com
  • Boonville, MO. The city is hosting bike rides, block parties and a barbecue the weekend of the event. They recommend the Jesse Viertel Memorial Airport and Kemper Park as viewing areas. BoonvilleMoChamber.com/missouri-solar-eclipse-2017
  • Columbia, MO. Columbia is hosting events all weekend, including Foodstock, golf, movies, bike rides and science programs. Cosmo Park and Gans Creek Recreation Area are recommended for viewing. CoMoEclipse.com


This chart shows when to expect the partial eclipse phase to begin, when totality will begin, and the duration of totality in the communities in this article. Source: www.eclipse2017.org/2017/in_the_path.htm.


Partial Phase Start

Totality Start Time (CST)

Duration of Totality





Atchison, KS

11:40:12 AM

1:06:11 PM

2 min. 19 sec.

Columbia, MO

11:45:40 AM

1:21:21 PM

2 min. 37 sec.

Excelsior Springs, MO

11:41:56 AM

1:08:07 PM

2 min. 30 sec.

Kansas City, MO

11:41:19 AM

1:08:52 PM

27 sec.

Lathrop, MO

11:41:41 AM

1:07:39 PM

2 min. 39 sec.

Lexington, MO

11:42:37 AM

1:09:00 PM

2 min. 26 sec.

St. Joseph, MO

11:40:42 AM

1:06:27 PM

2 min. 38 sec.

Warrensburg, MO / Knob Noster State Park

11:43:21 AM

1:10:53 PM

75 sec.










Scientists strongly urge viewers to seek longest duration of totality if at all possible, many saying that seeing a partial eclipse is like eating a hot dog when compared to the total eclipse (eating a rib eye steak). For this once in a lifetime opportunity, choose the location that best meets your family’s goals.

Tip: Discover more local Kansas City Area Eclipse Events here.

Kristina Light and her family are excited to be hosting friends who are coming from out of town just to watch the eclipse together!

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