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.
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:
Images via NASA
Kimberly Johnson (Patch Staff) contributed to this article
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Originally published July 19, 2017.