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Local task force prepares for August’s total solar eclipse

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – The St. Louis Eclipse Task Force met at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium Wednesday to map out strategies for August 21, the day when a total solar eclipse will take place.

The time of the eclipse depends on your location.

“They’ll get to see the corona, the actual atmosphere of the sun,” said Don Ficken, chairman of the St. Louis Eclipse Task Force.

The once in a lifetime event takes place when the moon blocks the sun from the Earth in the middle of the afternoon. The task force is made up of community members trying to make sure the area is prepared for the event.

One task force member said she’s already heard from schools in Europe, indicating students are coming to the St. Louis area to see something that will last a minute or two depending on where you are.

Maps detailing some of the best places to watch can be found at STLouisEclipse2017.org.

Ficken said in some communities south of St. Louis hotels are already nearing capacity.

“In Perry County, they’re almost completely sold out. I know in Jefferson County, most of the hotels are actually being sold out,” he said.

The task force is also trying to get special eyeglasses to area schools so children can safely see history, and educate businesses about making sure lights triggered by darkness are powered off in an effort to enhance the viewing experience.

“If your dusk to dawn lights are off, you should be able to see planets and stars, because it will be dark and just like it is in the evening,” said Solar Eclipse Task Force member Karen Hargandine.

She said efforts are also underway to work with MoDOT on any potential traffic issues and cellphone carriers to make sure there’s they’re prepared. The hope is this once in a lifetime event won’t end when it ends.

“It starts stimulating, I think, an interest in science that might carry on to some bigger things,” said Ficken.
The task force is also planning a major expo at Queeny Park on June 17. There will be experts to answer questions, including guests from NASA, according to Ficken.