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The Solar Eclipse in ILLINOISouth

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Attractions, Events, Summer, What's Happening

It begins as a tiny spot on the western side of the sun. Gradually, the spot grows. The blue of the sky is getting duller as the light begins to diminish. For the first half hour, things seem to proceed slowly. Then with about 15 minutes left to totality, the sky gets darker in the west as the shadow of the moon approaches and deepens the sky to blue-gray or violet. In a few more minutes, the sun doesn’t fill the sky with brightness; it becomes a tiny silver band of light as the darkening sky closes in. The ends of the bare sliver of the sun become individual points of intense white light called ‘Baily’s Beads’ when the last rays of sunlight pass through the deepest lunar valleys. Opposite the crescent, a ghostly round silhouette looms, the dark limb of the Moon, framed by a white opalescent glow. This is the corona, the most striking and unexpected of all the features of a total eclipse. (Adapted from The Experience of Totality by Mark Littmann, Ken Willcox and Fred Espenak, see MrEclipse.com)

Diagram showing the Earth-sun-moon geometry of a total solar eclipse.Rusty Weisman, an archaeologist at the Missouri Department of Transportation, has researched and lectured on these and other questions.  “Beliefs about astronomical events like eclipses are not something archaeologists can readily dig up – they are not directly preserved in the archaeological record – so we can only approach them indirectly through inference,” he said. “But it is possible to look at the beliefs of descendant peoples for some ideas about what the Mississippians might have believed.”

A map of the United States showing the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.

Another source Weisman noted is prehistoric rock art, some of which may have been created along the paths of eclipses to commemorate or mark those events. “There is an unusual concentration of ‘ogee’ petroglyphs and pictographs in the Mississippi River Valley south of Cahokia,” Weisman said. Based on their location and corona-like form, he believes these may be depictions of the sunrise total eclipse witnessed there more than 1,000 years ago. Most of these prehistoric rock art sites are on private land and are not open to the public, but photographs of the ancient artwork are available online. One Mississippian rock art site that is open to the public is at Washington State Park in De Soto, Missouri, which is within the path of both the 941 and 2017 total eclipses. The best place to see this year’s eclipse for the longest duration is at Carbondale and Makanda, IL with the partial phases starting at 11:52 a.m. and totality at 1:21 p.m. For 2 minutes, 40 seconds, it will be like night time with bright stars visible.

Check with local science museums, schools and astronomy clubs for eclipse glasses—or purchase an ISO 12312-2 compliant and CE certified pair of these special shades!The excitement is building as we prepare to welcome visitors from all over the world who want to share this experience. Partial and total eclipses happen frequently all around the world, but rarely on the same path or even over the same area. To be able to see it as the ancients did is very special. Most people won’t see a total eclipse more than once (if that) in their lifetime. But hold on to your eclipse glasses, because there will be another one crossing over southern Illinois from southwest to northeast on April 8, 2024. Very rare, indeed!

Note: The grounds at Cahokia Mounds, including Monk’s Mound and Woodhenge, are open every day. The public is welcome to watch the Eclipse from here, although the Interpretive Center is only open Wednesday – Sunday. The Mounds Gift Shop will be giving away eclipse glasses in August.

 

See the Eclipse in ILLINOISouth!

Click a city below to see attractions, eateries, shopping, and accommodations.

Hamilton County

McLeansboro

Monroe County

Columbia
Waterloo

Perry County

Du Quoin
Pinckneyville 

Randolph County

Chester
Prairie du Rocher
Red Bud
Sparta

St. Clair County

Belleville
Fairview Heights
Mascoutah
Millstadt

Washington County

Nashville
Okawville

White County

Carmi
Norris City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLICK HERE to see a map of what the solar eclipse will look like in your zip code!

 

 

Eclipse Events

Looking for somewhere to see the eclipse? Check out these events:

 

 

For more information about the eclipse and things to see while you are here, please click here.

Southern Illinois Eclipse Logo

 

Article from Spring/Summer Tourism Times Newsletter.

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