170725Eclipse panel

Some of the primary viewing spots for the solar eclipse include the Remington Nature Center, Rosecrans Memorial Airport and the East Hills Shopping Center.

So you’re either a procrastinator or you’re not the kind of person who will hop on an airplane to view a three-hour solar eclipse in Hawaii.

But with St. Joseph right in the middle of the next eclipse, you are going to check it out. Here’s a primer on what you need to know if you haven’t done any planning.

Viewing sites

There are no bad viewing sites.

“Any location in St. Joseph is going to be an awesome watch location because you are under the path of totality,” said Beth Conway, director of communications with the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau. “As long as you are not in front of a big building or a tree.”

There are five primary city-approved watch locations: Rosecrans Memorial Airport, East Hills Shopping Center, Civic Center Park during Trails West!, the Remington Nature Center and Heritage Park Softball Complex. Other watch locations include Tipple Hill Winery at 10501 U.S. Highway 36, Speedy’s Convenient Store lot on north Interstate 29 and St. Joseph Harley-Davidson on the South Belt Highway.

Some viewing sites, like the one at Tipple Hill, will be on a first-come, first-serve basis with no reservations. East Hills is allowing free parking but cannot guarantee a space. Mall parking is available for $25 per space, through the shopeasthills.com website.

Heritage Park is selling camping space, starting at $40, on a first-come, first-serve basis. (No RVs). At Speedy’s, RV parking is available for three-, two- and one-day periods.

Trails West! charges admission in the form of buttons, while passes for Rosecrans range from two-day camping passes for $100 to $20 parking passes for the day of the eclipse. Conway said it’s the only primary location that will require a reservation.

Get your glasses

The entire eclipse will last from 11:40 a.m. to 2:34 p.m. ISO-rated eclipse glasses must be worn when viewing the eclipse, with the exception of a 2-minute, 38-second period when the sun is totally covered by the moon. That period lasts from 1:06:19 p.m. to 1:08:57 p.m. Failure to wear glasses when the sun is not totally obscured can lead to permanent eye damage.

Murphy-Watson-Burr Eye Center has donated 13,000 eclipse glasses for students in the St. Joseph School District. Those glasses will be distributed the Friday before the eclipse because school is closed Aug. 21.

Eclipse glasses can be purchased at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, 109 S. Fourth St.; the Remington Nature Center on the Missouri River and at the St. Joseph News-Press, 825 Edmond St. The News-Press glasses will be available in August.

Traffic planning

Finally, plan for gridlock but not Armageddon, with some estimates calling for St. Joseph’s population to triple or even quadruple for the day. Conway recommends planning “as if we’re going to have an ice storm.”

Other suggestions

Have cash on hand, since credit and debit card readers could go down on the day of the eclipse with the influx of visitors.

Gas up your vehicle before eclipse day, since a run on gasoline is possible on or prior to the eclipse.

Plan on being stuck in one place for portions of the day, especially at Rosecrans, the Nature Center and Heritage Park, since there’s only one way in or out. That means you should bring water, insect repellent and food.

If you venture outside for the eclipse, lock your vehicle and home.

Use side routes if possible, since main roads will be clogged with out-of-town visitors.

Sign up for Nixle Alerts from local emergency management and St. Joseph police.