Skip to main content
Shedd Aquarium

Your 2024 Illinois Solar Eclipse Guide

Jan 03, 2024 Outdoors & Regional

People look to the sky during the solar eclipse

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.

The moon passes in front of the sun for a solar eclipse

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, be sure to view the Illinois Department of Transportation's website for travel tips and info on how to prepare.

Read on for more details on 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

Adler Planetarium

Located in Chicago, America’s First Planetarium is more than a museum. It's a laboratory, a classroom, and a community. Enjoy interactive exhibitions, live planetarium shows and more.

Info on Adler Planetarium Info on Adler Planetarium
Exterior of Cernan Earth Space Center building on a sunny day

Cernan Earth & Space Center

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

Info on Cernan Earth & Space Center Info on Cernan Earth & Space Center
Exterior of the brick William M. Staerkel Planetarium

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 at the second largest planetarium in Illinois.

Info on Staerkel Planetarium Info on Staerkel Planetarium
The exterior of Strickler Planetarium on a sunny day

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.

Info on Strickler Planetarium Info on Strickler Planetarium

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.

Giant pencil casey The Kaskaskia Dragon, a large dragon sculpture breathing fire.
Giant Pencil, Casey / Kaskaskia Dragon, Kaskaskia

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. 

Hikers resting and admiring the waterfall Two people climbing on rocks in front of a rock waterfall
Starved Rock State Park / Matthiessen State Park

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! 

  • A shop on the corner of a street


    Marketing itself as the Crossroads of the Eclipses, this is a great spot for eclipse-chasers. Southern Illinois University is planning a public viewing at a football stadium – with NASA Edge in attendance.

  • Hiker on the Garden of the Gods Camel Rock looking over the forest.

    Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest

    Situated in Shawnee National Forest, a beautiful, unspoiled wilderness area in Southern Illinois, Garden of the Gods is a perfect spot for viewing astronomical events.

    Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest
  • People watch the total solar eclipse at Bald Knob Cross

    Bald Knob Cross, Alto Pass

    As well as being close to the point of greatest eclipse duration – Bald Knob Mountain is one of the highest places in the area. Expect low horizons and a big crowd.

    Bald Knob Cross, Alto Pass

Traffic Information

There'll be an increased amount of traffic on the roads around the eclipse event. Make sure you plan ahead and check out the below links for further details.

Solar Eclipse Events in Illinois

Fairfield Eclipse (Fairfield), April 8, 2024

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!

Solar Eclipse At Historic Bell Hill (Cobden), April 8, 2024

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 12-3 pm
Location: Cobden, Illinois

If you are looking for the perfect family-friendly place to watch the April 8, 2024, Solar Eclipse, try the Historic Bell Hill! With the beautiful scenic overlook of the Shawnee National Forest at the top of Bell Hill, there is plenty of space for your family. We invite you to have a picnic on the hill, bring your favorite blankets or chairs, and enjoy yard games set up for the kiddos to play with. Glasses for viewing will be provided.
Total Eclipse of the Art: at Alto Vineyards (Alto Pass), April 6, 2024

Total Eclipse of the Art: at Alto Vineyards

Event date(s): April 6, 2024, 12-5 pm
Location: Alto Pass, Illinois

Come and enjoy this day in celebration of local talent with an eclipse theme, in Alto Vineyard's comfy & pleasurable environment. This is a perfect opportunity to purchase that one-of-a-kind memorabilia of this historic crossover eclipse that will engulf Southern Illinois.

Total Eclipse Run (Vienna), April 8, 2024

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Location: Vienna, Illinois

Get a move on and Run on the Day of the 2024 Total Eclipse by participating in the Total Eclipse Run presented by Revive Vienna. SAG Station (Drinks and Snacks) and SAG Driver will be available during the run times.

Solar Eclipse Wine Glass Painting at StarView Vineyards (Cobden), April 7, 2024

Event date(s): April 7, 2024, 1-3 pm
Location: Cobden, Illinois

Get ready to unleash your creativity while enjoying a glass of wine, great food and friends. StarView Vineyards are are hosting a Solar Eclipse Wine Glass Painting event where you can personalize your very own wine glasses or beer mugs. Choose between a solar eclipse-themed design or make your own unique design! By the end of the event, you'll have two glasses to sip out of while you watch the once in a lifetime total Solar Eclipse the next day!

Solar Eclipse at Blue Sky Vineyards (Makanda), April 8, 2024

Event date(s): April 8, 2024, 11:00 am - 6:30 pm
Location: Makanda, Illinois

Blue Sky Vineyard is perfectly positioned along the path of the 2024 eclipse with scenic views of the vineyard, open skies above and surrounded by rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest.

Join us at the Eclipse Crossroads for the second total solar eclipse at Blue Sky Vineyard. Did you know that Blue Sky Vineyard was NASA’s Point of Longest Duration for the 2017 eclipse? We thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the 2017 event with so many wonderful guests and are now planning our 2024 experience.

Total Solar Eclipse Olney Illinois 2024 (Olney), April 8, 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!

Marshall Illinois Eclipse (Marshall), April 8, 2024

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

Come join us for the Marshall Illinois Eclipse event!

Southern Illinois Eclipse (Carbondale), April 8, 2024

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.

Twice in a Lifetime Solar Eclipse (Chester), April 8, 2024

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!

Discover Totality, Discover Carmi (Carmi), April 8, 2024

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.

Eclipse on the Bricks (Albion), April 6-7, 2024

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

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

Bald Knob Cross of Peace Eclipse (Alto Pass), April 8, 2024

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.

Southern Illinois Crossroads Eclipse Festival (Carbondale), April 8, 2024

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.

Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center (Makanda), April 6-9, 2024

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!

Eclipse Events: Market, Music, Trivia, Viewings & More (Greenville & Centralia), April 6-8, 2024

Event date(s): April 6-8, 2024
Location: Greenville, Centralia & Salem, Illinois

Head to Greenville and Centralia to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event, and support some great public libraries at the same time. There's a variety of events during the weekend before and day of the eclipse including music, trivia, murder mystery nights, markets and eclipse viewings and parties.


Illinois Makers in the Area

  • Show more in category of Farms & Orchards

    Rendleman Orchards Farm Market

    Rendleman Orchards offers retail packages of best quality farm-fresh, tree ripened peaches, nectarines and apples along with a wide selection of other fruits and vegetables, as… Read more about Rendleman Orchards Farm Market
  • Show more in category of Specialty Stores

    C's Bees

    100% Local Southern Illinois honey and honey products at a great price. C’s Bees is a small business in the heart of Southern Illinois that began… Read more about C's Bees
  • Show more in category of Breweries

    St. Nicholas Brewing

    The owners of the St. Nicholas Brewing Company share a love of beer, bicycles, and great food. Our logo brings the past and the present together.… Read more about St. Nicholas Brewing
  • Show more in category of Wineries & Vineyards

    StarView Vineyards

    StarView Vineyards is a family-owned winery nestled in the rolling hills of Cobden, Illinois. Read more about StarView Vineyards
  • Show more in category of Specialty Stores

    Shawnee Hills Lavender

    Fresh, local lavender products. Gift shop, with U-pick available in season. Read more about Shawnee Hills Lavender
  • Show more in category of Farms & Orchards

    Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch

    See the alpacas, feel the fleece, learn about workshop practices, shop the store at this mother-daughter owned alpaca ranch. Read more about Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch
  • Show more in category of Bars & Taverns

    Alto Vineyards Winery & Tasting Room

    Founding member of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, and one of the oldest wineries in Illinois Read more about Alto Vineyards Winery & Tasting Room
  • Show more in category of Breweries

    Scratch Brewing Company

    Scratch is dedicated to providing beers and food created with local, seasonal, and to the greatest extent possible organic or otherwise naturally grown ingredients. Read more about Scratch Brewing Company
  • Show more in category of Bakeries

    Bryn’s Cookie Bin

    Creative cookies and other desserts and sweet treats. Read more about Bryn’s Cookie Bin
  • Show more in category of Wineries & Vineyards

    Pomona Winery

    Specializing in wines made from locally grown fruits other than grapes, we offer seven table wines and two fortified dessert wines, each of which has received… Read more about Pomona Winery
  • Show more in category of Coffee Shops

    Crown Brew Coffee Co.

    Crown Brew Coffee Co. is dedicated to bringing you incredible free trade roasts from around the world to your doorstep. Their rotating menu features premium blends,… Read more about Crown Brew Coffee Co.
  • Show more in category of Galleries

    Alto Clay Works

    Pottery showroom, resident artist studios, and classroom for summer camps and instruction Read more about Alto Clay Works
  • Show more in category of Bars & Taverns

    17th Street BBQ

    17th Street BBQ is an award-winning BBQ joint rated "Best Ribs in the U.S." by Bon Appétit Magazine. Read more about 17th Street BBQ

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.

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 Taste Illinois

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 to Make One Learn How to Make One

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).

Sun Safety Tips Sun Safety Tips

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.

Find Glasses Find Glasses

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 Check Weather

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.

How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

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).

Insect Repellent Insect Repellent

Share this story

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get inspired by top travel stories, gain access to exclusive promotions and contests, and discover even more reasons to #EnjoyIllinois.