August 21, 2016

2017 Solar Eclipse along the Missouri River

The "Line of Totality" crosses the river 8 times - take your pick!

by Steve Schnarr, Missouri River Relief

One year from today will be a super-duper treat here in the middle of Missouri. We’ll experience a total solar eclipse! On August 21, 2017, the path of a total solar eclipse will pass from coast to coast in the United States, arriving mid-day through Missouri. While the greatest extent of the total eclipse will be in southern Illinois, mid-Missouri's experience will be just a few seconds shorter. 

For Missouri River lovers across the state of Missouri, we are really lucky. The “Line of Totality”, which represents the location where  the eclipse will be complete for the longest amount of time (almost 3 minutes along the totality line – with partial coverage lasting almost 3 hours), crosses the Missouri River 8 times. PLUS it crosses the Mississippi River once. 

Now if you thought to yourself…there’s no place I’d rather watch the solar eclipse than on an island on the Missouri River, then you are really in luck. The line of totality passes either through or within several miles of five different islands. During relatively low water flows, three of those islands are big sandbars, with massive views of the sky (one of them isn’t really an island anymore, although it is still called an island…more on that below). Interestingly, four of those islands are part of the Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge. 

NASA has put together a great interactive map showing the path of totality. Check it out!

NOTE - Sure we are obsessing with this line - it's visual and it's fun. But you don't have to be on the center line of the "path of totality" to see the total eclipse. You can be 15 miles away and only miss a few seconds of it. The further away you are from the line the more of the total eclipse you miss (it is a parabolic curve). Play around with the interactive NASA map, or the Xavier Jubier map to see how different locations have different lengths of totality. 

So where are these spots on the river we can get the best experience of the eclipse? 
(I’ll add Google waypoints and additional directional and eclipse timing info here when I get time)

1. St. Joseph, MO – 

(crosses the river at Rivermile 447.3) - The line of totality runs just south of downtown St. Joseph. There is an island about 10 miles upstream of here – Worthwine Island Conservation Area (rivermile 457), but it doesn’t generally have a nice sandbar viewing area. 

2. Hill’s Island – near Waverly, Grand Pass, Malta Bend – 

(crosses the river at rivermiles 288, 279, 276.5) – On this large mitten-shaped series of bend in the river, the line of totality crosses the river three times in just 12 miles of the river. Best spot on the river for viewing? Remote Hill’s Island (rivermile 281). When the river is moderate to lower flows, you can count on a massive sandbar here. This is part of Cranberry Bend Unit of the Big Muddy Refuge. Hill’s Island is only two rivermiles north from the line of totality. 

3. Jameson Island – Arrow Rock, MO – 

(crosses the river at Rivermile 211) The line of totality crosses the mouth of Jameson Chute, which runs through Jameson Island Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. From Arrow Rock, you can follow the Lewis and Clark Trail down to the river bottoms. The spot where the trail stops at a sandbar by the river is almost exactly the line of totality. Bring your bugspray for the walk through the forest, but they should calm down once you get to the river. If the river is flooding this trail will not be accessible.  If you have a boat or canoe, though, the largest (and perhaps the highest) sandbar on the Lower Missouri River is just 2 1.2 miles upstream, at about rivermile 213 (Saline County side – right bank descending).

4. Franklin Island Conservation Area – near Boonville, New Franklin – 

(crosses the river near rivermile 193) – Franklin Island isn’t an island anymore, but there is an island across the river (Boonville side) from it! Unfortunately, it’s a pretty steep banked island that doesn’t generally have a nice sandbar viewing area. Just downstream is the Overton Bottoms Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, with several nice sandy beaches at lower river levels. 

5. Airplane Island (or Tadpole Island) – near Huntsdale, Lupus – 

(crosses the river at rivermile 179) – This sandbar emerges at about 13.5 feet on the Boonville gage. Just one mile downstream of Katfish Katy’s boat ramp. This is part of the Overton South Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge. However, the Corps of Engineers is doing a construction project on this sandbar during the winter of 2016-17, so we hope the sandbar still exists in 2017. 

6. St. Aubert’s Island – near Mokane, MO – 

(crosses the river at rivermile 123) – St. Aubert’s Island Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge is only an island at high water, really. At low water there are some beaches, but nothing really outstanding. The line crosses the river just a couple miles downstream of the Mokane MDC Missouri River Boat Ramp. 

7. Rockwood Island - (OR Grand Island) - Mississippi River 

(crosses the Mississippi River at Rivermile 101) - The "line of totality" crosses the Mississippi River at one location, right through the beautiful sandbar at Rockwood Island, 8 miles downstream of Chester, IL. However, still within just a few miles of that line is one of the most scenic spots on this stretch of the Mississippi - the Grand Tower Rock at rivermile 80. If you pick that historic power spot, you'll only miss a few seconds of full totality. Here's the Rivergator page for more info on the Grand Tower Rock. 

This is the map for Rockwood Island.

See you on the river!!!

NOTE - these maps were generated using Xavier Jubier's interactive eclipse map using Google Maps! Check it out

We'll post more details here as we have time. 

See you on the river!!!

NOTE - these maps were generated using Xavier Jubier's interactive eclipse map using Google Maps! Check it out

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