Families travel great distances to view the eclipse.

Last Monday was the first time in history that Missouri has been exposed to a total solar eclipse. Before Monday’s phenomenon, most recent eclipse that passed over the U.S. occurred in 1991, when the eclipse was visible in Hawaii and Mexico. The last eclipse before that was in 1976. So it’s no surprise that people traveled far and wide to watch the total eclipse from a central location — our own COMO.

While there was no clear number on how many people would choose Columbia as their viewing destination, The Great American Eclipse estimated between 323,000 and 1,291,000 people would pick Missouri.

For some, the eclipse was a perfect reason for a family reunion. Emiliano Belen (top left above) came all the way from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. His family joined him, traveling from Texas and New Mexico. The family members drove more than 10 hours to view the eclipse at the Show Me Totality event in Cosmo Park.

Sora Sogur, top left above, reunited with his friend Jean Louis, middle top, during the eclipse. Sora is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Jean Louis is from Kansas City. They originally planned to meet in St. Joseph, but potential clouds and weather detoured them to Columbia.

“The atmosphere is really beautiful,” Sogur said about the town.

In the ’80s, Sogur vaguely remembers experiencing a partial solar eclipse in Africa, he says. Now, years later, he was excited to share the experience of a total solar eclipse with his friends and family.

Brandon Jensen, above, came from Waverly, Iowa, to watch the eclipse — his viewing method, however, was a little different than everyone else’s. Jensen brought a welding helmet. The helmet, when set to shade 12 or higher, could be used to watch the eclipse safely.

Shawn Wrobel, above left, and his family came from San Francisco and Chicago. His daughter, Logan, experienced her first eclipse while surrounded by family.

While another total solar eclipse may not be in the cards for Columbia anytime soon, two things remain true: People got to check off visiting the best city in Missouri, and Columbia created a perfect environment for reunions with family and friends.

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