Seeing a total solar eclipse is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Although total eclipses of the Sun occur around every 18 months or so, the 2017 solar eclipse is the first that has been visible from the continental United States since 1979. A total eclipse is a strange and unique experience. Not only will you see the sky darken, but you will see unexpected shadow phenomena, see and hear the animals react, and feel the temperature drop sharply as we enter the Moon’s shadow.
A total solar eclipse occurs when our view of the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon. As the Moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, it casts a shadow onto the Earth. Because the shadow cast by the Moon is smaller than the Earth, only a small section of the Earth will be completely in the Moon’s shadow. This band is approximately 100 miles wide for the 2017 eclipse, and everyone within it will have the opportunity to view “totality,” or the complete blocking of the view of the Sun.
Illinoisans have a particularly wonderful opportunity to view the eclipse because Carbondale holds a unique distinction: It is very near the location of maximum totality (2 minutes 41.6 seconds in duration), and is also on the path of the next total eclipse to be visible in the continental United States that will occur in 2024. This is less than 250 miles from Illinois State University, so we want to share this experience with as much of the campus community as possible. From the Quad, our view of the sun will be approximately 93% obscured.
On Eclipse Day, Monday August 21st, Illinois State University will be distributing several thousand pairs of eclipse glasses to aid in your safe viewing. Distribution points will include the Quad, the Plaza between Milner Library and the Bone Student Center, and the front desks of dormitories. Please do not attempt to view the sun directly without using NASA-approved eyewear!