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story.lead_photo.caption Caydence Hall, 8, gets an autographed photo from astronaut Mike Hopkins while her mother, Courtney Hall, takes a photo in the background. Hopkins, who was featured earlier that morning at a sold out Breakfast with an Astronaut event, signed autographs during eclipse festivities Sunday afternoon at the Capitol. Photo by Gerry Tritz / Fulton Sun.

With an estimated 2-hour line to enter NASA's Journey to Tomorrow exhibit in front of the Capitol, grade-schooler Maks Protzman strolled up to a solar telescope with no wait and got a glimpse of the sun.

He said it was a great view, and he's looking forward to seeing the eclipse with his fellow students at Lawson Elementary School.

"You'll see a big orangish-red circle, and three black dots in the middle," David Ganey explained to Protzman and others looking into the telescopes. "Those are sun spots. The sun will look like a quarter and the flecks of pepper are the sun spots that are three times the size of the earth, at least."

Ganey teaches biology and astronomy at Jefferson City High school, and is a sponsor of the JCHS Astronomy Club, which sponsored a booth at Sunday's Capitol eclipse event.

Sam Orr, of Jefferson City, enjoyed a close-up view of the sun. "Now I can compare the telescope (view) to what you see in totality tomorrow," he said. "It's a nice event. It's just too bad (NASA) doesn't have four of those trailers."

Katie Lee, of Jefferson City, started waiting to get into the traveling NASA exhibit at 9:15 a.m. Sunday and went through the traveling NASA exhibit at about 12:25 p.m. She said it was a "wonderful experience" and worth the wait, especially getting to see the Apollo 17, which made the last U.S. moon landing in 1972.

"Since I was a little girl, I've always been interested in the stars and the sky and the planets, and for me it was just something that God created in me," she said. "He gave me that desire to know what's way up there."

The other long line at the Capitol festivities was to meet astronaut Mike Hopkins, a Lebanon native. Hopkins, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, became an astronaut in 2011 and made his first spaceflight from September 2013-March 2014.

Caydence Hall, 8, smiled and twirled her hair while asking Hopkins what they eat in space. He told her they eat mostly dehydrated food, because it stays fresh longer. Some of the food he ate on his mission was two years old, he said.

At Riverside Park, a combination of local residents and visitors from other cities and states came to the "Total Eclipse of the Park" event featuring live music, food and arts and crafts booths.

Attendees of the mini-festival enjoyed food and drink under the park pavilion, where sci-fi movies played on a big screen. Nearby, the East Side Business Association was selling souvenir drink bottles for $5 with unlimited refills of four different flavors of water.

Mike Gerwig and Donny Schaap cycled from Riverside to the downtown event. They live in the Fayetteville, Arkansas, and were part of a group of four who came to Jefferson City on Sunday.

Gerwig said he got the idea to come here because he's biked the Katy Trail several times previously. They drove here this time, but are riding to several area cities along the Katy Trail while camping at Cooper's Landing near Rocheport.

Today they may go with a group of 400-500 cyclists on a ride from Rocheport to Jefferson City.

"A lot of people are putting a big effort out for this. This is awesome," Gerwig said.

Brendan Matthews, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, bought a souvenir eclipse cup at Riverside Park while his mother, Missy, waited. They planned to watch the eclipse in Jefferson City with her uncle and his wife, who are from Boston, Massachusetts.

"We are impressed with all this stuff to do. And tomorrow is the icing on the cake," she said. "This is the place to be."

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