Best places to see the eclipse in Illinois

The southern tip of the Prairie State will get Totality for 4 minutes from 13:18 pm CDT on August 21, 2017

The eclipse track may only cross 100 miles of Illinois, but the Prairie State is one of the best locations of all to get your eclipse kicks. Why? The first is that the Point of Greatest Eclipse Duration is in Illinois – a great reason to travel to Giant City State Park – but also because Illinois hosts the Crossroads of the Eclipses in Carbondale. Eh? Two Total Solar Eclipses in the same place in one lifetime is unlikely, but two in seven years?

A celestial fluke is on the cards for the folk of Carbondale, Illinois, who will see an eclipse on August 21, 2017, then again on April 8, 2024. Instead of northwest-southeast, the 2024 eclipse will go northeast-southwest, which means the paths must cross. Carbondale will therefore be full of people wanting to complete part 1 of a 2-part eclipse event!

Here’s a great map of the Path of Totality in Illinois.

Totality can be glimpsed in Illinois at 13:18 pm CDT on August 21, 2017 in the far west of the state, with the moon shadow leaving Illinois for Kentucky at 13:22 pm CDT. Brief, but brilliant!

Three places to see the eclipse in Illinois:
1 – Crossroads of the Eclipses, Carbondale

Carbondale, marketing itself as the Crossroads of the Eclipses, and is a true collectors item for eclipse-chasers. Southern Illinois University planning a public viewing at a football stadium – with NASA Edge in attendance, and broadcasting an eclipse Megacast – and there will be several events in the town. This is as near as you’d need to be for the Greatest Duration of Eclipse, at 2 minutes 40 seconds – no-one beats that in the entire USA! However, true eclipse geeks may want to travel very slightly further south …

2 – Point of Greatest Duration of Eclipse, Giant City State Park, Union County

What’s a second or ten between eclipse-chasers? Actually, quite a lot; so beautiful and fleeting is Totality that some astronomers, eclipsophiles and ecliptomaniacs will do anything for an extra 0.1 of a second. For people who want to be right on the point of greatest duration, get yourself to the geographic location of 37° 34′ 04.3″ N 89° 06′ 10.0″ W in Union County, Illinois. This point has the longest eclipse duration when the irregularities of the moon’s limb (due to mountains and valleys) are taken into account according to Xavier Jubier’s 2017 Total Eclipse Interactive Google Map (where the exact co-ordinates come from). You can access 37° 34′ 04.3″ N 89° 06′ 10.0″ W by leaving Interstate 57 at Lick Creek, then driving north up North Lick Creek Road, left on to Mt. Hebron Road and right on to Panther’s Den Road. The exact point is on the south side of the road, a few hundred meters walk south to a wooded area.

3 – Bald Knob Cross of Peace

As well as being close to the point of greatest duration – the location where the total eclipse lasts the longest along the entire pathBald Knob Mountain is one of the highest places in the area. Expect low horizons and a big crowd at an organized viewing event, which will have a reserved lawn area for photographers and astronomers to set-up their gear, as well as a general observing area.

Photo credit: Bob Baer/SIU Carbondale


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