Despite Missouri Western State University’s decision to close campus the day of the total solar eclipse Aug. 21, the school is offering several eclipse activities before and during the weekend of the big event.

A new astronomy program called 'Totality' is coming to the Bushman Planetarium on July 31, and Dr. Chris Godfrey, a professor of physics at Western, said that after people see their first show inside the 45 seat full dome theater that they typically come back to see the other shows.

"What 'Totality' is about is the reason eclipses occur, why they happen, how they develop, and the different types of eclipses,” Godfrey said. “But it's also about the sun and the science of the sun in general, and how eclipses have been used for other types of scientific investigations. One of Einstein’s famous theories was verified using a solar eclipse in 1919.”

There are 16 showings of ‘Totality’. Tickets cost $3 to $5 and must be purchased in advance either at Room 140 of Agenstein Hall during regular business hours or online at the

Western also will be live streaming video of two telescopic views of the partial and total phases of the eclipse on their campus TV channel, and the broadcast will last over three hours.

During the total phase, Godfrey said the standard telescope will provide viewers a close-up of the sun’s corona, and that the solar telescope feed will be more interesting during the partial phases because the filter uses H-alpha light.

“That is light emitted from hydrogen gas which shows all the tiny details and features on the sun's surface,” he said. “So things like sun spots will be much more intricate, the storms on the edge of the sun will be much more at that time through that view."

Dr. Bob Willenbrink, the dean of the School of Fine Arts at Western, created and is directing a musical review called ‘Eclipse!’

The show will combine solar and lunar themes with stories and legends that center around solar eclipses, and will have three shows at the Trails West! Festival on Aug. 18, 19 and 21 as well as a performance at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20, inside Potter Hall Theater.

Nathan Ellgren can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @NPNowEllgren.