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story.lead_photo.caption The path of next year's total solar eclipse in Missouri.

About a year from now, a total solar eclipse will pass right smack dab over Callaway County.
Rather than panicking as our fur-wearing ancestors may have done, business, government and tourism officials are looking at the two minutes and 37 seconds of darkness as an opportunity. Several months ago, a group was formed, and plans started for "Light and Shadow" events leading up to the eclipse.
"It's still early in the process," said Renee Graham, director of tourism for the Callaway Chamber of Commerce. "At least we're starting a year out."
The Great American Eclipse will be Aug. 21, a Monday. Although darkness will begin collecting about 11:45 a.m., totality is not expected until 1:12 p.m. in Callaway County. Nationally, darkness will fall from west to east, starting in Oregon, traveling across the American West and then pouring into Missouri at St. Joseph, a city resting exactly on the center line. Marshall, Boonville, Columbia and Jefferson City will also be well poised — although off the center line a bit. Locally, ground zero will lie between Fulton and Holts Summit. The eclipse will travel on across several eastern states ending in South Carolina.
Tentative ideas for weekend events include a Saturday morning activity at the Fulton Farmers Market, other activities at The Art House and the Cox Gallery, and Saturday evening activities at the Brick District Playhouse and/or Heart of Nashville. A possible concert at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury at Westminster College, and a Sunday evening balloon glow and live music at Serenity Valley Winery are being discussed, plus Monday viewing parties at the winery and other Callaway County locations.
It's impossible to predict how many tourists could come, chasing the moon's shadow.
"It's such a hard thing to pin down numbers," Graham said. "I know St. Joseph is talking about 50,000 people."
For example, if people gather in Colorado but then rainy weather sets in, it's possible the crowds will leave and chase good weather into Missouri. There could be a huge influx of tourists at the last minute who weren't expected.
"Those visitors would literally pack up and move to where there will be better weather," Graham said. "That could either be good or bad for us, depending on the weather. So it's a challenge."
In October, the Governor's Conference on Tourism is planned, and Graham said she hopes the eclipse and how it will affect tourism in the state will be discussed there.
"A lot of tourism entities are reaching out to each other and trying to wrap our heads around this," Graham added.
Members of the local solar eclipse group will meet again at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Callaway Chamber/Tourism building at 510 Market St. in Fulton. Members wish to reach out to others in Callaway County, including organizations in Holts Summit, Guthrie, Mokane and more.
Graham said the group plans to order 2,500 solar viewing sunglasses.
"That's kind of where we've started," she said.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely covers the sun. The last total solar eclipse to cross paths with the U.S. was in 1991 over Hawaii, and it was cloudy. In 1990, four small islands in the Aleutians were in the path of a solar eclipse, but it was rainy. The same thing happened in 1979 in the northwest United States. In 1972, a total eclipse was visible from Nova Scotia, plus another one in 1970; it's not known which eclipse Carley Simon referred to in her song, "You're So Vain."
The Callaway County eclipse group has been in touch with Dr. Angela Speck, professor of astrophysics and more at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She may be visiting the Callaway group soon to offer advice.
"The total solar eclipse has the potential to be the biggest public space science event since the moon landings," she said in her talking points to communities in the path. "It will happen whether we prepare or not. Let's be ready."

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