Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Best Spots To See It In Illinois

CARBONDALE, IL — For the first time in nearly a century, a total solar eclipse will be visible across North America, with prime viewing spots right here in Illinois. The once-in-a-lifetime event will take place on Monday, Aug. 21, according to NASA. Southern Illinois will have a front-row seat, so to speak, to the event, the first total solar eclipse visible across the U.S. since 1918.

“Only the southernmost section of Illinois enjoys totality, but this state has bragging rights for the longest duration of the total solar eclipse along the entire path,” according to TheGreatAmericanEclipse.com. In addition to the Aug. 21 eclipse, Carbondale will also be along the center line for another total solar eclipse on April 4, 2024.

The total eclipse viewing corridor will stretch across 14 states, according to NASA. The first sighting in the U.S. on Aug. 21 will be in Lincoln Beach, Ore. at 9:05 a.m. PDT (12:05 p.m. EST), and will last be seen in Charleston, S.C. at 4:05 p.m.

Where and when to watch the total solar eclipse

The total solar eclipse enters Illinois at 1:17 p.m. and leaves at 1:25 p.m. Aug. 21. Carbondale will see the total eclipse for 2 minutes and 35 seconds, and nearby Marion gets 2 minutes and 28 seconds. “If you want to experience the very longest eclipse duration, you can’t go wrong at any spot on the centerline of eclipse near Carbondale. Just don’t forget to drive east or west if clouds threaten to eclipse totality,” the Great American Eclipse website warns.

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Places to watch in Illinois:

  • Southern Illinois University in Carbondale will host Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium; tickets are $25 per person, and a limited number of discounted tickets for $5 per person will be sold to school groups. Adler Planetarium of Chicago and the Louisiana Space Consortium will host on-campus events on Aug. 21, including a public viewing at the football stadium, indoor viewing, talks and presentations.
  • The totality of the eclipse will last the longest (2 minutes, 40 seconds) at Giant City State Park in Makanda. The park’s next-door neighbor, Blue Sky Vineyard, will host four days of events leading up to the eclipse. Reservations are not needed to watch the eclipse at the winery (it’s first come, first served), but reservations are still being accepted for anyone who wants to camp out in their RV.
  • Southern Illinois Miners Eclipse Viewing: A watch party with family events is slated for Rent One Park in Marion.
  • In Waterloo, the Monroe County Fairgrounds will host a “Solarbration.”
  • The City of Chester will host multiple eclipse viewing events.

You can also use this interactive Google map to find the spot of the longest eclipse.

An interactive map with additional events throughout the U.S. is found here.

Solar eclipse viewing tips

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe, and the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special “eclipse glasses” with solar filters, warns NASA, which offers these tips:

  • Homemade filters or sunglasses are not safe for looking at the sun. Five manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar views meet international standards and they are Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, TSE 17 and Baader Planetarium.
  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.
  • If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.
  • An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse.

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    Images via NASA

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    Originally published July 19, 2017.

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