Recently, there was a lot of news about the annular solar eclipse that was visible throughout much of the United States. We are incredibly excited about the total solar eclipse that will pass through Southwestern IL on April 8, 2024. When we say it is visible in Clinton County, this genuinely thrilling circumstance is that we lie in the path of totality!
What does this mean, and how can you maximize the experience and stay safe? Let’s return to some information we may have first seen in science classes.
What is a Total Solar Eclipse?
A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. The Moon’s dark silhouette completely hides the Sun’s bright light, leaving only a ring of light (called a solar corona) visible. The Moon doesn’t orbit in the same plane as the Earth and the Sun, so this event only happens occasionally. The eclipse is visible along only a narrow band of the Earth based on when and where the Moon is orbiting.
What is the Path of Totality?
The path of totality is the area on the Earth during a total solar eclipse where the shadow of the Moon will cover the entirety of the sun. For the April 2024 eclipse, the path is only 115 miles wide but is 8,000 miles long. Outside the path of totality, it appears that the moon is taking a Pac-man-like bite out of the sun.
When you are in totality during a solar eclipse, the sky will darken as though it were dawn or dusk, even though it may be the middle of the day.
The feeling is eerie, and you can understand why the ancients believed it to be an evil omen.
When Will it Occur in Southwestern IL?
NASA can predict precisely when the eclipse will occur over many locations. For example, in Centralia, IL, on April 8, the eclipse will begin at 2:00:58 PM CDT and last for 2 minutes and 44 seconds.
What are Safe Viewing Practices?
You must NEVER look at the sun directly, but it is even more critical during an eclipse. Why is that? Even a quick glimpse at the eclipse can be damaging to your eyes. The amount of solar radiation can burn the interior of your eyeball. Always use protective eyewear when watching the sun during an eclipse. Ordinary sunglasses will NOT work. You must use safe solar viewing glasses (eclipse glasses) or a handheld solar viewer.
Because there is so much anticipation regarding the Great North American Solar Eclipse next year, you may want to get your special Eclipse glasses early. The glasses sold out early during the last total eclipse, and many counterfeits were on the market.
What to Do if You are a Visitor?
Our first recommendation for coming to Clinton County to view the total solar eclipse is to book early! Many hotels and other lodging choices will sell out, so consider cabins or campsites. Bring your eclipse glasses, and be prepared to celebrate at one of our local restaurants afterward.
It will be a long time until the next total solar eclipse passes across the United States – August 23, 2044! So, don’t miss out. See you in April!