For Small Towns in Midwest, Eclipse Brings Together Family, Friends, Fun – and Science

There may have been some who were disappointed about cloud cover during the much-publicized and hyped solar eclipse – but from the optimist’s point of view, the planning, preparation and excitement was a day for science to earn a place in the hearts of everyday people.

In Dearborn, Mo., a sleepy little town off I-29 on the way north from Kansas City to St. Joseph, Mo., Mike and Susie Lyon stood out on their front step in downtown Dearborn and caught the first glimpses of the eclipse as the moon appeared to slip in front of the sun. They wore their eclipse glasses they got from attending a class earlier this month from a local astronomer. “I’m just waiting ’til it’s totally dark so I can take a nap,” quipped Mike.

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Mike and Susie Lyon watched Monday, Aug. 21, from their front steps in downtown Dearborn with their special eclipse glasses as the moon began its path of blocking out the sun. “To see it happening, it’s awesome, amazing,” said Susie. “It’s once in a lifetime.”

A bit further down the road, in downtown Plattsburg, what looked like a class of amateur astronomers was actually retired aerospace engineer Tom Killgore and his family and friends from Tulsa, OK, staked out in front of a home he rented for the event.

“I’ve been planning for this for 10 years,” said Killgore.  Over a period of years, Killgore purchased enough telescopes and setup for the group to be able to individually enjoy the experience. “We found the house about a year ago and rented it.”

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Connie Rush, left, and her husband Tom Killgore, right, rented a house in Plattsburg, MO. over a year ago, as part of a plan that Killgore started 10 years ago to view and record the total solar eclipse Aug. 21, 2017 with family and friends. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

His own setup included several cameras on tripods, but a special setup involving a telescope that automatically recorded timed captures for a time-lapse sequence and a wide angle bubble-front lens that took in a super wide scene of its entire surroundings.

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Friends and family of Tom Killgore and Connie Rush, right, manned their viewing stations in front of telescopes  set to track the total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 from the front lawn of a home they rented in Plattsburg, Mo. for the event. The group is from Tulsa, OK. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

His wife Connie Rush and her friend Diana Barbee helped the grandkids and the rest of the group keep their equipment setup – and protected when some rain droplets fell during the coming and going of cloud cover.

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Tom Killgore keeps a watchful eye on the floating cloud cover as he monitored his carefully designed recording setup designed to fully capture the total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 in Plattsburg, MO. Killgore, a Tulsa native, started making his plans for the event 10 years ago. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
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Tom Killgore, a retired aerospace engineer and astronomy enthusiast, supervised equipment and viewing experiences for his family and friends staying in Plattsburg, MO for the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
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Diana Barbee, friend of the hostess, Connie Rush and Tom Killgore, all of Tulsa, OK, watched as the moon eclipsed the sun Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, from a spot Killgore rented in downtown Plattsburg, MO. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

Killgore explained his telescopic photography setup:

Killgore also had a cool project he created, which he explains here:

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Tom Killgore, left, and his wife Connie Rush (second from left), posed for a picture Monday, taken with his super fisheye lens setup that captured their place in the historical event of the 2017 total solar eclipse from their spot in Plattsburg, MO. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
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Dorothy and Richard Winsor travelled all the way from Waterloo, IA to at least one pitstop on Hwy 116 near Plattsburg, MO, chasing after a glimpse of the total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, undeterred by the on-again-off-again sprinkles and cloud cover. The couple was among hundreds of motorists who lined the rural roads in and around Plattsburg, MO on Monday afternoon during the eclipse. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
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At a party in Plattsburg, MO, Jim Krest, of Kansas City, MO, used a sextant to view the eclipse. Krest and his wife, Robin, lived full time on a sailboat for three years where they learned to use the navigation device – and decided it would be useful for viewing Monday’s solar eclipse. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

 

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Natalie Banks, left, hosted an eclipse party for friends and family at her farm near Plattsburg, MO. That’s my husband, Terry Bair, using the nerdiest glasses ever invented to try and catch a glimpse of that tiny crescent during the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse event. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

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Today, we witnessed license plates from as far away as Idaho, Texas, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin – to name only a few – who came to Missouri to be a part of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse event here.

Everywhere we went, we observed people in good spirits, joining together in parking lots and camping sites…enjoying not only a fun science event, but also a peaceful human event.

For a day or two…a few hours or so…a powerful and wondrous event in the sky seemed to bring us all together with one word in common:

“Wow.”

It’s not Om, but…

Close enough.

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