Where to See the Solar Eclipse

Mark your calendars for Monday, April 8, to experience a total solar eclipse in 417-land. Find the best places to be in the path of totality for the second solar eclipse to happen in 417-land in seven years.

By Kali Salazar

Apr 2024

Photo courtesy ShutterstockFind a nearby spot to view the solar eclipse.

When it comes to celestial bodies, the sun always gets the spotlight. But the moon plans to steal the show during the April 8 total solar eclipse—the second total solar eclipse to pass southwest Missouri in just seven years. According to NASA, the eclipse will take place in the afternoon when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, completely blocking the sun and its rays. Viewers in the path of totality, an area where the moon’s shadow completely masks the sun, experience darkness as if it were dusk or dawn. With special eyewear designed to view the solar eclipse, onlookers can see the outer atmosphere of the sun called the Corona.

In addition to the mid-day darkness, viewers in the path of totality can expect to experience nighttime behaviors in nature. According to Dale Flippo, Vice President of the Springfield Astronomical Society, animals may begin to roost and crickets may begin to chirp as if it were nighttime. During totality, temperatures may also decline slightly due to the cool shadow of the moon.

Cities in the path of totality in and around southwest Missouri are preparing activities, celebrations and events to commemorate the special occasion. 

West Plains plans to celebrate the eclipse with a four-day festival beginning on Friday, April 5. The festival includes a concert by 38 Plains and The Ozark Mountain Daredevils on Friday. On Saturday, go for sports, games, special art exhibits and concerts, a cosmic carnival for kids and the Sunshine Festival with food trucks, vendors and more. End the evening with the ’80s and sci-fi themed neon parade! On Sunday, see the Hot Air Balloon Glow featuring live music from Fender Bender and Ha Ha Tonka, a fireworks display and more tasty treats. 

For the big day, Melissa Wharton, Tourism Manager at the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center, recommends viewers arrive at one of the official viewing areas early to secure a parking spot. Food trucks stationed at the three viewing locations—the soccer complex, Civic Center and the fairgrounds—will offer drinks and treats as viewers wait for the main event. At 1:54 p.m., grab your glasses because the eclipse will begin! Totality lasts for three minutes and four seconds in West Plains, as the moon passes completely in front of the sun. 

If you can’t make it to one of the cities in the path of totality, you’ll still be able to view a partial eclipse from right here in Springfield. According to Flippo, a small section of the sun will still be visible, but it is worth viewing nonetheless. 

Wherever you view the eclipse, don’t forget to bring your solar eclipse glasses for safe viewing. 

Best Nearby Spots for Viewing 

Paducah, Kentucky

Grab your family and head to Paducah to make a weekend out of the eclipse. This adorable and artsy town positions you in the path of totality while also charming you with its quaint restaurants, cultural museums and exhibits and diverse art galleries. 

Little Rock, Arkansas

If you’re looking for more of a city experience, grab your shades and head to Missouri’s next-door neighbor to watch the eclipse. In Little Rock, you’ll celebrate this space phenomenon with special eclipse activities and more.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Head to Hot Springs National Park or grab tickets to watch the eclipse from Garvan Woodland Gardens for a prime viewing spot in the path of totality. Enjoy a day in this historic town with special eclipse activities while you wait for the moon’s main event.