Your 2024 Illinois Solar Eclipse Guide

Image Courtesy of Carbondale Tourism


Explaining the 2024 Solar Eclipse

Imagine being in the Middle of Everything to witness a twice-in-a-lifetime astronomical event. If you make your way to Southern Illinois, you'll get that chance. 

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse is a rare, celestial event that occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, causing the sun to be partially or completely obscured from view as observed from a specific region on Earth. This happens because the moon's shadow is cast onto the Earth's surface, blocking or partially covering the sun's light.

When is the next total solar eclipse?

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse is set to occur, marking the final one visible from the United States until the year 2045.

Where will the eclipse be visible?

This celestial event will pass through a path of totality encompassing 13 states, including Illinois. 

Where is the best place to view the eclipse?

While a partial solar eclipse will be visible across the entire country including much of the rest of Illinois, the special characteristics of a total solar eclipse can only be experienced within the narrow path of totality that will traverse Southern Illinois - specifically in areas such as Carbondale. It is only within this specific region and during this precise moment that you can observe the sky transitioning to darkness, resembling nighttime, as the Moon completely obstructs direct sunlight and unveils the solar corona—the Sun's outer atmosphere.

This means only residents of Southern Illinois and visitors alike will have the rare, unique opportunity to see this truly remarkable event and be witness to the rare astronomical phenomenon known as a total solar eclipse. Carbondale is on the center-line of the path of totality and will see 4 minutes and 9 seconds of totality for eclipse 2024 (nearly double what was seen in 2017). For other spots to view the eclipse in Illinois, keep reading!

How do I plan to see the eclipse?

If you're planning to travel, then here's your guide on how to prepare for the 2024 Solar Eclipse including what you'll need to bring with you, the best places to see the eclipse, events, and more. Let's have a solar-bration!

Get in a Celestial State of Mind

Before embarking on your eclipse adventure, take a moment to delve into all things out-of-this-world by visiting these planetariums and observation centers. These celestial phenomena have fascinated humanity for centuries, and understanding them can add a whole new layer of wonder to your experience.

Adler Planetarium

Located in Chicago, America’s First Planetarium is more than a museum. It's a laboratory, a classroom, and a community exploring the Universe together. The Adler offers interactive exhibitions, live planetarium shows, and Chasing Eclipse exhibits, too.

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William M. Staerkel Planetarium

With a state-of-the-art digital projection system and special programs, visitors to Champaign can learn about the stars, planets and more in this cutting-edge environment at the second largest planetarium in Illinois.

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Cernan Earth & Space Center

Triton College's on-campus space center in River Grove is an educational, engaging attraction with galactic appeal. The Cernan Earth and Space Center of Triton College features a variety of earth and sky shows, children's shows, laser light shows, and more.

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Strickler Planetarium

Come witness the history of the universe in Bourbonnais from its fiery birth to the formation of our own solar system on a state-of-the-art digital projector that gives a multimedia and full-dome show and discover the nature and formation of solar eclipses.

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Road Trip Hotspots: Roadside Stops 

As you head off on your road trip to Southern Illinois, there's a bounty of iconic attractions and features to stop by along the way. 

Kaskaskia Dragon, Vandalia

Is a dragon really a dragon without fire-breathing? Of course not. And this ferocious metallic statue in Vandalia agrees. On your way to experiencing something celestial, stop by this attraction for a fun dose of mythical. 

Big Things, Casey

Yes, seeing a total eclipse will make you feel small. But so will the town of Casey just off of Interstate 70. Host to a variety of larger-than-life attractions like the world’s largest rocking chair, mailbox, golf tee and driver, pencil, keys, and so much more. This town will make you feel like you’ve just stumbled upon a lost suburb of giants.

Fort Massac Encampment, Metropolis

For those history lovers, Fort Massac is Illinois’s first state park and home to a wooden fort built by French soldiers in 1757.

Superman Statue & Museum, Metropolis

Metropolis is the home of Superman! Take a photo with the 15-foot-tall statue of the Man of Steel. A statue of Lois Lane is also located nearby. And be sure to visit the world's largest collection of Superman memorabilia at the Superman Museum.

Walker’s Bluff Casino & Resort, Carterville

Keep an eye out for a variety of hosted activities related to the eclipse, plus enjoy all the amenities on offer including a spacious indoor/outdoor pool, fine dining venues, and a variety of gaming and entertainment.

Road Trip Hotspots: Nature Walks

Don't forget to visit a few local state parks and rolling hills to get in some of your steps and take in the wondrous beauty of the natural landscapes that surround you.

Starved Rock State Park, Utica 

Seasonal waterfalls, awe-inspiring bluffs, and rugged canyons dominate the storied landscape at Starved Rock. Rich with history and beauty, Starved Rock’s hiking trails meander through towering trees and scenic overlooks along the Illinois River. 

Matthiessen State Park, Utica

Located in central LaSalle County, approximately four miles south of Utica and three miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology as well as recreation.

Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton

With nearly 8,000 acres of scenic beauty, Pere Marquette State Park is one of the most picturesque and beautiful locations on the Illinois River and the largest state park in Illinois.

LaRue Pine Hills, Wolf Lake

LaRue-Pine Hills is one of the most unique areas in the world. As with many places in the Shawnee National Forest, the beauty we see today is rooted in geologic history. Scenic drives, hiking, and camping are available. 

Best Places to View the Eclipse in Illinois

The Path of Totality will span across 13 states. A large section of Southern Illinois lies along the path, hitting multiple towns and cities. Take a look at the map below and see which parts of Southern Illinois lie within the Path of Totality, so you can discover which places will be best to view the eclipse! 

  • Carbondale
  • Makanda
  • Alto Pass
  • Fairfield
  • Olney
  • Golconda
  • Effinggham
  • Mt. Vernon
  • Marion

2024 Solar Eclipse Events & Festivals

Southern Illinois Eclipse

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 1:59 pm
Location: Southern Illinois

On April 8, 2024, see 4 minutes and 9 seconds of totality for eclipse 2024, nearly double what was seen in 2017.
When you’re not enjoying 4 minutes and 9 seconds of this awesome and rare astronomical event, they have everything you need to enjoy your trip to Southern Illinois. Let the great dining, lodging, activities, and sights of beautiful Southern Illinois complement your Solar Eclipse experience.

Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center

Event date(s): April 6-9, 2024, 1:59 pm
Location: Makanda, Illinois

Located in the path of totality for the 2024 Solar Eclipse, Touch of Nature is the perfect location to turn the eclipse into a fun filled experience. The second of two once in a lifetime eclipses will be taking place in Southern Illinois and Touch of Nature is in one of the most ideal spaces for the viewing of this event. For nearly 4 minutes and 9 seconds, the sun will be completely blacked out in the middle of the day!

Southern Illinois Crossroads Eclipse Festival

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 1:59 pm
Location: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse path stretched across the entire United States, reaching its point of greatest duration (GD) a few miles south of Carbondale. This region in Southern Illinois is not only in the path of the 2017 eclipse, but also the 2024 eclipse, making it a unique location for being able to perform observations of both eclipses from the same location. Carbondale is on the center-line of the path of totality and will see 4 minutes and 9 seconds of totality for eclipse 2024, nearly double what was seen in 2017. The two eclipse paths form an intersection just south of the SIU campus around Cedar Lake.

2024 Solar Eclipse - Jasper County

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Location: Newton, IL

It's never too early to start planning for the Solar Eclipse 2024. This will be a site where Jasper County can share ideas, plan and then save the date for the big day. Let's work together to make this day one of a kind!

Bald Knob Cross of Peace Eclipse

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 12:00 PM
Location: Alto Pass, IL

Get your tickets early! There has been a great amount of interest shown in their “spot on” location for the best viewing of this rare eclipse. They're working with the Solar Eclipse Committee and other area businesses on planning this incredible event, but suffice it to say that Bald Knob Cross will be a very popular spot for viewing this phenomenon. Gates will open at 10 AM. Please plan on arriving by 12 Noon to experience the Partial Eclipse beginning around 12:40 PM CDT, and the Maximum Eclipse around 2:00 PM CDT.

Eclipse on the Bricks

Event date(s): April 6-7, 2024
Location: Albion, IL

Come celebrate the historic Total Solar Eclipse with the Eclipse on the Bricks festival

Discover Totality, Discover Carmi

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 12:45 PM
Totality Begins: 2:01 p.m. CDT
Location: Carmi, IL

Carmi is on the centerline of the path of totality and will see 4 minutes and 1 seconds of totality for the April 8, 2024 eclipse. This is double what was seen during the 2017 solar eclipse.


Twice in a Lifetime Solar Eclipse

Event date(s): April 8, 2024
Location: Chester, IL

View the NEXT Total Solar Eclipse On The Mighty Mississippi! Come join us for the Twice in a Lifetime Solar Eclipse event. Totality... totally worth it! 

Fairfield Eclipse

Event date(s): April 8, 2024
Location: Fairfield, IL

Join us for the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8th, 2024 in Fairfield, Illinois – The Center of it All!

Marshall Illinois Eclipse

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Location: Marshall, IL

Come join us for the Marshall Illinois Eclipse event!

Total Solar Eclipse Olney Illinois 2024

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Location: Olney, IL

Olney & Richland County Illinois will be in the path of totality for the next Total Solar Eclipse. SAVE THE DATES as Olney gets put on the map during the 2024 solar eclipse!

Ryder Family Farm Offering Unique Eclipse Viewing & Farm Dining Experience

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 12:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Location: Golconda, IL

Did you know that The Ryder Family Farm is again right in the path of 100% totality for the April 8th, 2024 solar eclipse? That is right! The historic river town of Golconda, Illinois is one of the Southern Illinois cities along the route of totality for the Total Solar Eclipse of 2024. The Ryder Family Farm is hosting a Total Solar Eclipse Farm Dinner in 2024 for patrons! The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse will pass through Mexico, Central and Northeastern USA, and the Maritime provinces of Canada as it makes it’s way across the United States.

What to Bring with You

As you travel down to Southern Illinois, you might be wondering what essentials you'll need to bring with you to have a great solar eclipse road trip. We got you.

Solar Eclipse Glasses

The actual full eclipse lasts a couple of minutes, but before it happens, the Sun, even a sliver of it, is still way too bright to look at with your own eyes. These glasses allow you to look right at it and see the outline of the moon move over the sun.

Find Glasses

Plenty of Food and Water

Depending on how early you get to your spot, the experience can last a while—and you might as well make a day of it! So bring plenty of food and water to keep you fed and hydrated—you don’t want to miss it trying to find lunch!

Taste Illinois

Check the Weather!

Bad weather can impact your solar eclipse experience. Make sure you check the weather forecast. If it's looking a little cloudy, dress appropriately and cross your fingers—but it's a rare occurrence so don't let a little cloud put you off.

Check Weather

Make a Pinhole Projector

In a pinch, a pinhole camera/projector can help you watch the eclipse unfold in a safe way. All you need is white card stock, aluminum foil, tape, scissors, and a pin or paper clip. It's also a great project to help pass the time.

Learn How

A Good Quality Camera

Don’t rely on your phone camera to get a good picture. If you're experienced and come prepared, you might just get that magic shot. You may need to use a “solar filter” to prevent harming your camera’s imaging sensor.

Learn More

Sun Protection (Of Course!)

This should be an obvious one! Make sure you’re prepared to be outside in the sun for a while. Bring sunscreen, a hat, sun umbrellas, and anything else that'll help make your viewing experience relaxing (and burn-free).

More Tips

Bug Spray/Repellent

If you choose a remote outdoor spot to enjoy the eclipse, make sure you stay one step ahead of pesky critters and bring some bug spray to keep them away (especially if you've followed our advice and packed a tasty lunch).

Learn More

Where to Stay

Hotels & Accommodations 

Whether you're staying in Makanda, Carbondale or anywhere else in the southern region of Illinois for the solar eclipse, there are plenty of lodgings and accommodations to meet your resting needs.

But please note! Already, many accommodations are selling out, so you might have to dig around to find available options around the eclipse date.

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