Locals hope eclipse will bring positive attention to Carbondale, SIU

By Samantha Keebler

Some in Carbondale hope the upcoming two minute and 38 second moment of darkness could shine a lasting light on SIU and the community.

Locals are accustomed to the ebb and flow of population changes; it is expected that the Strip will come alive and local shops will bustle again when students return from their summer hiatuses at home. However, the outpouring of spectators on eclipse weekend will be something most locals haven’t experienced before.

Nevertheless, many business owners in the region look forward to the exposure and incoming revenue.


The Kelley family has operated the Giant City Lodge — a southern food restaurant that has become a regional mainstay — for three generations. Despite the family’s decades of experience owning the business, co-owner Mike Kelley said they can only speculate how many hungry tourists will step through their door.

“We’re planning to be maxed out,” Kelley said. “I would hope that anyone who comes [for the eclipse] would have a good memory of the lodge and think the food is good.”

It’s not just local businesses that could get a boost from the eclipse-chasers — many hope the university will too. Some university employees, including Thara Lowndes, a mathematics lecturer who was raised in Carbondale, think the eclipse could be the event that Carbondale needs to attract prospective students and revive SIUC.

“I think it is great publicity for SIUC, and perhaps some families will consider SIUC after visiting next weekend,” Lowndes said.

Lowndes said she also hopes the eclipse will influence children and young adults by giving them a greater interest in science.

Initiatives like Citizen CATE are trying to foster that exact scientific interest. Citizen CATE (Continental-America Telescope Eclipse) is a nation-wide experiment that relies on 20 high school and 20 college student groups — armed with telescopes — to capture pictures of the eclipse.

The pictures will be sewn together to make a 90-minute video of the phenomenon. Bob Baer, Illinois State Coordinator for the Citizen CATE Experiment, said data analysis from the project will continue for at least a year before the results are published.


He said with over 60 sites involved in the experiment, it would take some time to go through all of the data. In the meantime, Baer said that he and the rest of the university’s CATE team will use the telescopes for other astronomy projects.

“I love that kids, including my own, get to witness this [eclipse],” Lowndes said. “Hopefully it will spark their interest in astronomy or science.”

Staff writer Samantha Keebler can be reached at [email protected]

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