Total eclipse of the sun: The view from southern Illinois


Mike Phillips

Capturing: the sun Mike Phillips, Geology Instructor, captures a phenomenal second-by-second image of the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

Mike Phillips, Guest Writer

My first thought was what’s the big deal? I have seen several partial eclipses and lunar eclipses. But, after looking into the hype, I learned that experiencing totality is described as a unique, deeply moving experience.

So, on Monday, Aug. 21, my family and I were in southern Illinois to experience totality. We had a telescope with a solar filter, viewing glasses, a pinhole projector, binoculars (for projection), digital thermometers and cameras. The experience was more than worth the time and effort.

As the eclipse began, we used the telescope, glasses and other tools to watch as the sun was slowly obscured. Around us, the change in light and temperature was initially imperceptible, but we soon began to notice the light growing dimmer and our thermometers registered a gradual drop in temperature.

We noticed little eclipse images between the shadows of tree leaves, and we watched as the sun became a crescent, a sliver, a very bright spot, and finally disappeared behind the moon.

It is hard to describe the experience, but everything around us was a dark bluish grey and the cicadas went silent. In the sky, we could see Venus and several bright stars.

We took off our eclipse glasses to see the sun had been replaced by a very black hole surrounded by a bluish-white ring of glowing light. It was unlike anything I have ever seen or experienced.

After two minutes and forty seconds, the sun reappeared as a bright point that resulted in us looking away and grabbing the viewing glasses. We packed up our stuff while watching the crescent of the sun slowly grow larger. On the way home, our experience was capped with a full rainbow visible as we drove through central Illinois.

The next total eclipse visible in the United States will be on April 8, 2024. The path of totality will pass through southern Illinois again, and we have already begun making plans.