6 ways to experience the total solar eclipse in Southernmost Illinois
April 8, 2024 visit Southernmost Illinois to see the total solar eclipse. For nearly four minutes—when the sun, moon, and Earth are aligned—it will look and feel like nighttime during the day, with bright stars visible in the sky. The black moon will be rimmed by flares of the sun.
During this rare occasion, thousands of people are expected to visit Shawnee Forest country. It will mark an especially incredible event as the second solar eclipse for the region in seven years. In fact, the 2017 total solar eclipse in Illinois was the first total solar eclipse in the continental United States in 38 years. Residents of Illinois and the surrounding area definitely won’t want to miss this particular total solar eclipse, as there won’t be another in the state until September 14, 2099.
While the entire country will see a partial solar eclipse, you must be in the narrow path of totality, sweeping across Southern Illinois, to experience the unique features of a total solar eclipse. Only at this time and in the right location can you witness the sky darken as if it were night, as the moon blocks out all direct sunlight and the solar corona (the atmosphere of the sun) reveals itself. In witnessing this event for the first time, people are often overcome with emotion and awe as the air cools, planets are visible, and an incredible 360-degree sunset is visible as the shadow of the moon is cast on the Earth. During an eclipse, always remember to protect your eyes: If there’s any bright part of the sun showing, then you must use eclipse glasses to watch the event.
As you make plans, consider these eclipse-viewing events.
Southern Illinois University is hosting a variety of events on campus on the day of the eclipse, including a public viewing at the football stadium. Michelle Nichols of Adler Planetarium will serve as host and guide. There will also be indoor viewing, talks and presentations, an arts and crafts fair, and an area dedicated to eclipse citizen science. Over the span of four days, the event will provide a family-friendly experience rich with activities centered on the arts and sciences.
- Bald Knob Cross Eclipse Day Viewing
Get tickets early to this 360-degree, unobstructed viewing experience. There’s already been a great amount of interest in this “spot-on” location. With two ticket options, Bald Knob Cross in Alto Pass, Illinois, will be a popular spot for viewing this phenomenon. Gates open at 8 a.m. Plan on arriving by 10 a.m. to set up a spot and catch the partial eclipse, which should begin around 11:30 a.m. Tickets include eclipse glasses and a T-shirt.
- Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center + Camp Ondessonk
Located in the path of totality, in Makanda, Ilinois, Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center is offering a four-day package, April 6–9, 2024, which includes lodging, meals and activities. The staff, along with amateur and professional astronomers, will be on hand to help. The extended weekend price includes lodging, activities, meals (on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday), educational sessions, and a prime eclipse viewing space. Live streaming will be available in the event of inclement weather on the day of the eclipse. Additional packages are available at Camp Ondessonk in Ozark, Illinois, where you can stay for the entire weekend or just for the day. Packages include camp lodging, meals, and activities from Saturday through Monday.
- Cache River Canoe Solar Eclipse Tour
For an especially memorable way to experience the total solar, take a 4- to 5-mile canoe trip through an ancient cypress swamp. During the Cache River Canoe solar eclipse tour, guests will set out in the early morning, the perfect time to see dozens of warblers, great blue herons, ospreys, cormorants, egrets, kingfishers, and eagles. During the tour, professional naturalist guides will give a presentation about solar cycles and lunar eclipses, as well as global beliefs and customs surrounding these events. The canoe tour will be followed by a catered meal of barbecue pulled pork sandwiches or veggie option.
- The Ryder Family Farm is offering a one-of-a-kind way to experience the 2024 total solar eclipse in southern Illinois. Tickets are now available for an eclipse viewing party on the family farm that will include a multi-course, chef created, farm-to-table dining experience served during the celestial event. “We were awestruck by the magic that we experienced out in our farm’s pasture during the last total solar eclipse in 2017,” said Talina Ryder, owner of the farm. “We knew right then that we had to share that experience with some of the of visitors that will come back to experience the eclipse when it happens again in 2024. Think amazing food, cuddles with farm animals, and the beauty of the Shawnee National Forest surrounding you as you take in this amazing event in the sky.”
6. Wineries, Wildlife, and More
Visitors are welcome across Shawnee Forest country and the surrounding Southern Illinois area. Experience the event from one of the area wineries. Enjoy nature and the many rock formations at nearby state parks and Shawnee National Forest. Sign up for a farm dinner, and plan to stay for the extended weekend. The possibilities are endless. Don’t miss the chance to be in the path of totality.