Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Dominique Martinez-Powell | dmartinez_powell.photography
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Eclipse 2024: Everything you need to know about the event that will gain Carbondale worldwide recognition

Corinne+Brevik%2C+co-chair+of+the+SIU+Eclipse+Steering+Committee%E2%80%99s+subcommittee+and+participates+in+the+Dynamic+Eclipse+Broadcast+%28DEB%29+research+project%2C+stands+on+Neckers+Lawn+at+SIU+March+27%2C+2024+in+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.+%40libbyphelpsphotography%0A
Libby Phelps
Corinne Brevik, co-chair of the SIU Eclipse Steering Committee’s subcommittee and participates in the Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast (DEB) research project, stands on Neckers Lawn at SIU March 27, 2024 in Carbondale, Illinois. @libbyphelpsphotography

115-miles of cities in the U.S. are getting ready for up to four minutes of complete darkness Monday, April 8. Southern Illinois, however, is not just going to sit back and watch. 

 

“We are featuring a variety of events [in] what we’re dubbing the Southern Illinois Crossroads Eclipse Festival,” said Sarah Vanvooren, director of events and outreach at Southern Illinois University. “It includes talks, presentations, an arts and crafts fair…the idea is to provide a unique union staff-friendly, family-friendly experience of activities centered on arts and sciences.” 

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Southern Illinois has branded itself “the crossroads of the eclipse,” as this is the second time it will be in the centerline of totality for a total solar eclipse in just seven years. Carbondale sits where the path of the 2017 eclipse crosses with the 2024 eclipse. According to Assistant Professor of Practice (School of Physics & Applied Physics) Corinne Brevik, watching it is typically a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

 

“The next total solar eclipse is not for 21 years, and it will go from Northern California to Florida, so we won’t see that one,” she said. “So this is really special for us now, and it’s important because…people [think] they happen all the time…The next total solar eclipse to go through Southern Illinois is over 300 years from now, so they don’t happen often. We’re just the lucky spot that got it twice.” 

 

The festivities begin Friday, April 5 and run through the total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. 

 

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“If you’ve got time to kill that weekend, come on campus, take part in the activities,” Brevik said. “We’ll have a lot of glasses, so if people still need eclipse glasses, come to one of the events, and get some glasses. We don’t want the community to miss the show because they weren’t prepped for it.” 

 

A full schedule of events is available on eclipse.siu.edu. On Friday, a research workshop will be held, along with a talk series, chalk competition and a concert at Shryock Auditorium. Saturday through Monday will feature a comic con, spring festival, live music and more. 

 

“We have eclipse activities all weekend. [It’s] a big festival,” Brevik said. “So you come early, and Carbondale has got its own…set of activities. So there’s concerts, there’s live [streams], like at Adler Planetarium [in Chicago] we’ll do a live recording of their sky observers hangout podcast, and then Saturday and Sunday [in Carbondale] is the comicon.” 

 

She said there will be “lots of fun stuff to do with families and kids and friends.” 

 

“Sunday [and] Monday is the technology expo [Crossroads Astronomy, Science and Technology Expo],” she said. “NASA is going to be there, Adler Planetarium is there, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, who does some of the spacecraft that are orbiting the sun, they’re gonna be there. We’ll have guest lectures talking. There’s a ton of hands-on activities for people so they can bring their kids…The inflatable planetarium will be up, so they’ll be [seeing] planetarium shows, all of that’s in the Banterra Center.” 

 

The only events that are ticketed are the Eclipse Con at the SIU Student Center and Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium. Students can pick up tickets for free with their student IDs. All others are free and open to the public. 

 

“The stadium is offering a guided eclipse show,” Brevik said. “And it’s important for people to realize that it’s not just sit in the seats and watch the eclipse. It is an actually fully-produced show.” 

 

She said that Matt Williams from the theater department “has choreographed an entire multiple-hour event.” 

 

“The band, the choir, the dance, the cheerleaders, the theater, art–all of this will be happening. There’s a whole show going on on the stage,” she said. “So if you have family or guests coming and they’re like, ‘I don’t want to sit on the lawn for three hours,’ this is a full-scale production. Air Force is going to do a flyover, so it’s going to be very cool.”

 

She said guest speakers will also be present to talk about “what’s happening” and “why it’s happening.” 

 

“The guided part of the event, Adler Planetarium, NASA and a group will be [saying] ‘Watch over here, this is about to happen, look over here, don’t miss this,’” she said. “So if you’ve never seen an eclipse and you’re like, I don’t know where to look and I don’t know when to look, we’re gonna walk people through that entire experience.” 

 

The city of Carbondale can expect an economic boost from an influx of visitors. Niki Davis, director of hospitality, tourism and event management, expects to see numbers similar to the 2017 eclipse. 

 

“We’re fortunate that we did this in 2017 already, so we have a little bit of information to draw on from that and we have some estimates for the upcoming eclipse,” she said. “So in 2017, our numbers just here in Carbondale were roughly 50,000 additional visitors to the community day of, and about $7 million in economic impact that came into Carbondale. That is huge for a rural destination like this. If we look across southern Illinois in 2017, it was about 200,000 people across the region. Statewide economic impact was about $18 million, and we’re looking at a couple of days that came in…We’re expecting the same number of visitors for sure. We’re expecting 30,000 just to be on campus, let alone what’s inside Carbondale.”

 

Several safety measures will also be in place to manage crowd control and ensure an enjoyable environment for all attendees. 

 

“The larger planning committee is from a community and campus first-step perspective [and] includes all of the risk management components,” Davis said. “Carbondale Police Department will be out, SIU campus police, they’re all part of the planning process. And that’s typical certainly of any large-scale event like this, that your safety and security personnel, whether it’s a local police department, campus security, sheriff’s office, whatever, they’re always going to be part of the conversation.” 

 

Brevik said her goal is to educate the public on the safety of wearing eclipse glasses without making them paranoid. 

 

“I have run into small children who’ve been told not to stare at it so much that they won’t even watch the eclipse because they’re absolutely petrified that they’re gonna go blind,” she said. “That does nobody a service…so the message I usually give is when you’re staring at the sun, put on the glasses. On the flip side when you’re not staring at the sun, take them off. They block 99.9% of the light; you can’t see a thing through them…So you don’t need them unless you’re staring at the sun.” 

 

She also mentioned that traffic is unavoidable, and advised that those who are worried should “leave early” and “arrive later.” 

 

“There will be traffic. It is not fixable, it just is,” she said. “So the message is do not leave campus immediately after totality…There’s another hour and 15 minutes of Eclipse after totality is over as the moon moves off the sun. If you leave immediately after totality, you will sit in a gridlock, I guarantee it, especially if you stay on the major roads. So don’t leave. Go downtown and get a meal. Go to your favorite adult beverage location, hang out on the lawns and play some frisbee. Or the expo and all the activities, they’re still going until five o’clock.”

 

She recommends people stay on campus for that extra hour. 

 

“Enjoy all the other stuff happening, then leave. And that will let the bulk of the insanity flow away, and then the traffic should be a lot less,” she said. 

 

Hotels and campgrounds are already fully booked, including SIU’s Touch of Nature. The outdoor education center is hosting a family-friendly weekend for those staying there. 

 

“People are staying in tents and cabins and our hotel out here is full, so it’s packed,” said Brian Croft, director of Touch of Nature. 

 

Rather than having specific events, Touch of Nature has planned many activities for guests. 

 

“Ours is kind of a weekend about experience, where we’re going to have our climbing wall open and canoeing and kayaking,” he said. “And you’ll have camp food, and there’ll be a campfire at night with songs and there’ll be live music. It’s kind of this family camp that I joke happens to end with a really cool eclipse.” 

 

He hopes this weekend can create outdoor experiences that will stick with families forever. 

 

“Our mission [at] Touch of Nature is to enhance the lives of all people through outdoor experiences,” he said. “So that’s really what we want to do is we just want to create a fun experience that…selfishly I hope in 20 years, kids can look at their mom or dad [and say] ‘Hey remember that time we camped out at SIU’s Touch of Nature and saw the eclipse and we got a climbing wall and we did the zipline, and like, that was really, really fun. Because again…I want to believe that we all can kind of agree that good things happen when we go outside.” 

 

The events at both Touch of Nature and the Crossroads Eclipse Festival are still in need of volunteers. The portal is still open for all events at https://eclipse.siu.edu/volunteer-with-the-eclipse/ 

 

With the festival, the world is going to begin to hear Carbondale’s name. Vanvooren said the town is going to gain global recognition. 

 

“This event is good because of the amount and the level of exposure that SIU and Carbondale has seen from a national and international media perspective,” she said. “Like we’re talking about a level of exposure that we wouldn’t even have the dollars for…We’ll have Good Morning America on campus. We’ll have the Washington Post, the New York Times. And so the engagement of that level of media is just really good for our campus community.” 

 

It is also going to be a learning experience for many students at SIU. Brevik said there are around 10 to 20 students actively doing astronomy research on campus. A large group of students studying mass communications are also involved in organizing the live stream feed (see story on page __). Davis said the hospitality students are working with the Economic Development Center to cater a VIP barbeque event. She also said they are “acting as the docents” in the VIP stadium suites this weekend, ensuring that the people staying there are taken care of.  

 

“It’s very much hands-on experiential learning for our students, which is something we strive to do in the program as much as possible,” Brevik said. 

 

Those who are worried about the weather will be glad to hear there is nothing to fear. Brevik is the team coordinator for the Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast (DEB) Initiative, which will be broadcasting the eclipse to Saluki Stadium from locations all over North America.

 

“It is a NASA and NSF [National Science Foundation] funded research project,” she said. “We have over 80 teams with telescopes spread across the entire continent of North America, and a lot of them are in the path of totality. So we actually have telescope teams all the way from Mexico up to Canada, and they will be imaging–what we call the surface of the sun–the photosphere as well as totality.” 

 

Not only will these images from telescope teams be live-released to the public, they will also be projected onto the screen in the stadium, she said. 

 

“We are not weather-dependent. Even if the weather is not the best, we’ll have images of the eclipse across the entire path because you can’t cloud out the whole path,” she said. “So we’ll have images of the eclipse going from the time it starts in Mexico all the way across, so we’ll be switching between various locations.” 

 

Overall, the Southern Illinois Crossroads Eclipse Festival is a four-day-long celebration that is going to shine a light on Carbondale, bring community members together and give southern Illinoisians a chance to see a rare total solar eclipse that they will likely not get for another three centuries.

 

“The key is don’t miss it,” Brevik said. “And find a location that’s meaningful to you and with people that’s meaningful to you, because you can’t even describe it. You try to explain what the eclipse is like to someone who hasn’t seen it, and you could tell them it’s amazing and it’s just life-changing, but they just have to experience it. So 1:59 p.m. on Monday, everybody should be outside so they can see it. Because we won’t get another chance, unless you chase eclipses with us.” 

 

NOTE TO PEYTON – EVERYTHING BELOW THIS LINE IS KILLABLE FOR SPACE AND REPLACE WITH: For information on where to get glasses and how to secure tickets, see this article on DailyEgyptian.com

 

  • Information TentsEclipse glasses are available for every student on campus. It is extremely important to wear eclipse glasses to prevent eye damage. Eclipse glasses will be available – 1 per student – during the following dates and at the following locations:

April 1-5, 8am – 4:30pm

  • Morris Library Circulation Desk
  • Student Services Building Front Desk

April 8, Starting at 8am

  • Alumni Association
  • Chancellor’s Office
  • Eclipse volunteers
  • Evergreen Terrace Office
  • Lentz and Trueblood Dining Halls
  • Neely, Mae Smith and Schneider
  • Front Desks
  • Saluki Stadium
  • Student Center ID Office
  • Student Health Center
  • Student Recreation Center
  • Wall and Grand Mail Room

 

Student Tickets for Saluki Stadium

The student section at Saluki Stadium has been reserved for students to attend Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium. Current SIU students with their valid SIU student ID will get into the event for free. As students come in, we will check and swipe their ID and hand them a ticket in the student section. The student section for the SIU Eclipse Event is for students only, and seats are first come, first serve.

 

Please be advised that due to the size of this event there will be a limited number of tickets available. Student tickets will be provided at the gate, with a valid SIU student ID, when doors open at 11 a.m. Student tickets will also be available from 9-11 a.m., at the Information Tents on the north and south sides of the Banterra Center. Students will receive a pair of eclipse glasses with their entry ticket.

 

Staff reporter Carly Gist can be reached at [email protected]



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