Preparations continue as solar eclipse draws near

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COLUMBIA – Friday marks one month until the solar eclipse, and Columbia organizations and businesses are making last minutes tweaks to prepare for the event.

The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting a number of different events for their “Show Me Totality” festival. Strategic Communications Manager Megan McConachie said it's been preparing for the eclipse for over a year.

“We knew the eclipse was going to be a big deal and it was time to organize something that people who were going to be visiting could experience,” she said.

McConachie said the hardest part about preparing for the festival is predicting how the day will go when it comes.

“Kind of the first rule of event planning is well ‘how many guests will you have? How many attendees will there be?’” She said. “And at this point there’s really no way of knowing for sure. So there’s so many factors going into that.”

Despite the pressure and work, McConachie is ready for the eclipse.

“Getting ready for this, there’s a lot of anticipation and so I’m just really excited for it to get here,” she said.

Angela Speck, the Director of Astronomy at the University of Missouri, is helping prepare Columbians for the eclipse through education.

“We want to have the population ready to know what’s happening,” she said. “I think most people do have an idea of an eclipse is. But, they may not understand why it’s such a big deal. Why is it so rare.”

Speck also said there’s misinformation the public needs to know about.

“There’s also a lot of misconceptions about when it’s safe to look at it, when it’s not, so also dealing with safety issues,” she said. “So my job is both teaching the science of why it happens, talking about what they’re going to get to see so that they understand just how amazing it’s going to be, and then making sure that people are safe.”

For example, Speck says you can take your solar eclipse glasses off during totality but not during the partial eclipse.

Speck said she’s been speaking with agencies and police, informing them on how to keep people safe.

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