A leading worldwide researcher on total solar eclipses will visit southeast Missouri to gather input from area residents on what they experienced during the August 21st event.
Kate Russo says she enjoys watching people describe their first total solar eclipses because it was transformative for her.
"You can never really capture that unexpectedness again. Whenever you see your next eclipse, you will know how unexpected it is, even though you think you know what it's all about. But, it's that first time that's unique."
Russo says she tries to capture the power of that first time experience in her interviews.
"I'll have a video hot seat where people can just sit down and we can video their eclipse experience. This helps me understand and helps me communicate to other people in the future about what it's like to see your very first total solar eclipse."
Russo viewed totality last month near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, her 11th total solar eclipse. She says each one is unique.
"The corona will always look different. Sometimes you might see it in the morning or in the afternoon or at sunset or in the middle of the day. So, how the eclipse is positioned in the sun influences the experience of it. Of course, the path of totality, once every 18 months, is somewhere around the world and so you usually have a very different cultural experience too."
With another total solar eclipse coming through the area in 2024, Russo says it's not too early to start getting ready.
"Even though it's early days, there is probably a need to start planning if you are one of these communities from a very early point. The demand is there. The interest is there. I'm sure they're already getting phone calls for it."
Russo will conduct interviews from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at the Perry Park Center in Perryville, Missouri. She will then deliver a free, public lecture about her experiences and the research she has done on eclipses all over the world.
Russo says the information gathered during her interviews will be included in her next book and future lectures.
Russo's latest book is entitled Being In The Shadow, Stories of the First Time Total Eclipse Experience.