The eclipse celebration kicked off this past weekend in Perryville, Missouri with Solar Fest.
One of the highlights was Saturday’s unveiling of a sundial on the courthouse square.
The three foot tall structure was designed by Don Snyder of St. Louis, who is a member of the North American Sundial Society. He says this is a permanent marker to commemorate the totality path of the solar eclipse through Perryville.
“The tip shadow will move along this line during the day as the sun moves. When it gets here, that’s when the eclipse starts here in Perryville. Here’s the peak of the eclipse, totality, and here’s when the eclipse ends. So, every year it’ll remind us of that.”
Sculptor Abraham Mohler of St. Louis created the dial plate. He says although sundials aren’t used to tell time anymore, they can still be relevant today.
“I think that there is so much beauty and there is so much wisdom in a sundial that orients us, not to ourselves and our own subjectivity, our own thinking about the world, rather than pointing us inward, looking inside, it actually points us outward, externally, and orients us to the sun and to the cosmos around us, our surroundings. I think there’s really something healthy about that.”
The base of the structure is made of locally quarried marble, the same stone family that provides the base of the adjacent 113-year-old Perry County Courthouse.
Solar Fest also featured a parade, live music, science demonstrations and nighttime telescope viewing.
One of those taking it all in was Carla Pereira, a school teacher and amateur astronomer from Portugal. She says she’s beyond excited to experience her first total solar eclipse.
“It’s that great coincidence of having the moon right in front of the sun and covering it all except for the corona. Observing the corona, observing the temperatures dropping, the light dimming. I think it will be spectacular.”
Pereira says she became aware of the eclipse from a post on NASA’s Facebook page on August 21st of last year. She decided then to be in the U.S. for the event and ended up in Perryville after an American friend of hers told her Missouri would be the ideal spot to view it.
Pereira arrived in town on Friday and will leave Tuesday.
Perryville has four viewing sites for the Total Solar Eclipse: the City Park, the soccer complex, seminary picnic grounds and the Perryville Regional Airport.