KCK tourism officials preparing for solar eclipse

A solar eclipse will be visible from Kansas City, Kansas, on Aug. 21, and several special events are planned for it. Special eclipse glasses, ISO 12312-2 compliant, are needed for viewing, according to NASA. (Artist’s rendition, copyright 2017, not actual solar viewing glasses)

When it comes to the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, Kansas City, Kansas, is on the edge of a 70-mile band cutting through the nation from Oregon to South Carolina.

Parts of Wyandotte County are in the total eclipse path, according to maps published by NASA, but they are on the edge of the total eclipse area.

Parts of Kansas City, Kansas, could receive 23 seconds of “totality” – the phrase being used for a total solar eclipse – as compared to 2 minutes or more for Atchison, Kan., and St. Joseph, Mo.

In Kansas City, Kansas, the time of the total eclipse is projected at 1:08 p.m., according to information from NASA. The partial eclipse starts around 11:41 a.m.

Despite that it is an event lasting less than a minute here, the solar eclipse could be this summer’s big event. The next solar eclipse in Kansas will be in 2045, according to local officials.

A map of the total solar eclipse path, from Oregon to South Carolina. The eclipse will still be visible outside of this pathway, as a partial eclipse. (Map courtesy of NASA)

Maila Yang, marketing and communications manager for the Kansas City, Kansas, Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she has seen a lot of interest in the eclipse here. She started hearing about the solar eclipse and planning for it two years ago. Smaller towns may have longer periods of totality, but many of them do not have adequate hotel space for travelers who want to see it.

“Knowing we only had 23 seconds, we knew the majority of people who were coming were looking for longer totality places first,” Yang said on Monday. “Now we’re hearing that Atchison, all those places, are so busy, they may not make it to those places.”

Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County have had some bookings in hotels for people attracted here by the solar eclipse, she said, with the CVB working with them. Some people will be staying in hotels here and driving to other towns to see a longer eclipse view.

The CVB also is working with hotels to provide solar eclipse viewing glasses, she added. Those who view the eclipse must use special glasses to protect their eyes. It’s not safe to use regular sunglasses to look at the eclipse, according to NASA information.

“We encourage them to come in earlier, get their plans settled and then, we have all the shopping and dining and attractions here, kind of make a long weekend out of it,” Yang said.

Yang said Kansas City, Kansas, has had a great tourism season so far this year, and this adds to it.

While there may be an influx of tourists traveling to cities along the solar eclipse path, it’s also an opportunity for area residents to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime event, she said.

The total solar eclipse path cuts across northeast Kansas, including Wyandotte County. (Map courtesy of NASA)

Solar eclipse viewing parties in Wyandotte County

There are several viewing parties planned here for the community and tourists.

• The T-Bones’ solar eclipse viewing party will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kansas. This is a free event, open to the public. The first 200 people in attendance will receive complimentary tickets for the Aug. 21 evening T-Bones baseball game. Food will be available for purchase, and free solar eclipse glasses will be available for viewing. For more information, call 913-328-2255, or visit www.tbonesbaseball.com.

• Rowe Ridge Vineyard and Winery viewing party will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the deck of the winery, with a glass of wine, sangria or wine slush available for purchase. Pizza also will be available for purchase. Reservations are necessary. For more information about this event, which has a cost, call 913-721-9776 or visit www.roweridge.com.

• Solar Eclipse Zip Tour at Zip KC will offer a hike and zip or tower tour during the eclipse. There will be a catered lunch, and those participating will receive free eclipse viewing glasses. Space is very limited for this event, and those interested in it may call 913-214-9478 or visit www.zipkc.com.

Free certified eclipse shades will be distributed by the KCK CVB through hotels and attractions, until the glasses run out, according to the CVB. All guests checking in at a hotel in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday, Aug. 20, will receive complimentary solar eclipse glasses.

Attractions in Kansas City, Kansas, that will hand out eclipse glasses to ticket holders and guests, and the dates, include: Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Aug. 19 and 20; Kansas City T-Bones, Aug. 19 and 20; Sporting KC, Aug. 19; Cabela’s, Aug. 21; Richard Petty Driving Experience, Aug. 19 and 20; all Wyandotte County museums, Aug. 19 and 20; Rowe Ridge Vineyard and Winery, Aug. 21; Legends Outlets Kansas City, management or security office, Aug. 19-21.

A complimentary pair of glasses also may be picked up by visitors at the CVB office during business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, at 755 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. The CVB has its own eclipse website page at www.VisitKansasCityKS.com/solareclipse2017.

NASA has provided a lot of information about the upcoming eclipse on its website at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/. (Graphic courtesy of NASA)

Staying home?

Staying home and looking at the solar eclipse in Wyandotte County? If the NASA map is correct, some locations toward the northern part of the county may see a 100 percent total eclipse, while others south of the line that goes diagonally through Wyandotte County may see, for example, a 99.9 percent eclipse. The southern half of Wyandotte County Lake at 91st and Leavenworth Road is not in the totality area, while the northern half is, according to the map.

According to the NASA map, Sumner Academy, Kaw Point Park, Kansas City, Kansas, City Hall, and the Main Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library at 625 Minnesota Ave., are among the locations that will be in the totality area. While these are only projections, NASA says the map is more accurate this year than ever before. (https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/nasa-moon-data-provides-more-accurate-2017-eclipse-path)

Check your own home, work or school location by enlarging the NASA eclipse map at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/interactive_map/index.html.

The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library branches have programs planned on Aug. 21, with other eclipse educational programs scheduled during the week before it, according to the library calendar, and for more information, visit http://kckpl.evanced.info/eventcalendar.asp?ln=ALL.

The Bonner Springs City Library also has an eclipse program planned Aug. 21, with a program in advance scheduled on Aug. 16. For more information, see http://bonnerlibrary.org/darkness-at-mid-day/ and http://bonnerlibrary.org/solar-eclipse-viewing/.

Law enforcement officials are discouraging residents from driving and stopping on the side of a highway to view the eclipse.
How to make your own eclipse viewer. (Graphic courtesy of NASA)
Another simple eclipse viewer. (Graphic courtesy of NASA)

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