Solar Eclipse on April 8 a Boon for Southern Illinois Economy

Less than seven years after a total solar eclipse captivated millions and shined a spotlight on deep southern Illinois, another total solar eclipse will be visible in areas of southern Illinois on the afternoon of April 8. Southern Illinois is considered the eclipse crossroads of America because it was in the centerline for the path of totality in 2017 and will be again next month. 

The largest city in the path of totality is Carbondale, where the eclipse is expected to begin just after 1:59 p.m. and last for four minutes and nine seconds. This is nearly double the length of the time of the eclipse in 2017. During the eclipse, the sky will darken, the air will cool, stars and planets will become visible, and a 360-degree sunset will be visible. The total solar eclipse will cross North America, including portions of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The next total solar eclipse to be visible in the United States will not occur for another 20 years on August 23, 2044. 

Over 100,000 people descended upon Carbondale for the 2017 eclipse, bringing with it an economic impact upwards of $8 million. The Southern Illinois Regional Eclipse Committee has a website up that lists a number of lodging, travel, dining, shopping, and other activities for the area in the days leading up to the eclipse. Many hotels in southern Illinois and Missouri are sold out. Saluki Stadium on the campus of SIU-Carbondale was a prime viewing option in 2017 and promises to be again this year

“Carbondale will once again be the center of attention for thousands of people who want to experience something that is very rare and also very exciting,” stated Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis). “For those attending, please plan ahead and enjoy history in the making!”

City leaders in Carbondale have acknowledged the economic shot in the arm the 2017 eclipse brought. Morale on the SIU campus turned on a dime, and buildings were restored and storefronts repainted in anticipation of the event and with the influx of visitors. The city has rebranded itself as the ‘Solar Eclipse Crossroads of America.’ Eclipse merchandise was prominently on display at the 2017 eclipse, and a ‘Shadow Fest’ music festival was held every summer between 2017 and 2024. The stories of people traveling from hundreds of miles away are numerous as well. 

“The economic impact these total solar eclipse events have had in our southern Illinois communities cannot be overstated,” stated Rep. David Friess (R-Red Bud). “Our local residents are ready to welcome visitors from all over the country for this historic event.”

Prior to 2017, the last total solar eclipse over the U.S. was in 1979. A total solar eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon in which the moon passes in between the Sun and Earth, unveiling a solar corona as the Moon’s shadow crosses the Earth.  Should Mother Nature not totally cooperate with the big day and the moon is obscured by clouds when it passes in front of the sun, eclipse watchers in Carbondale will still feel the temperature drop and darkness fall around them. They will miss out on the stunning light show of the corona. 

Those attending solar eclipse events in southern Illinois will need to beware of traffic issues. The 2017 event brought with it hours-long traffic jams once the eclipse ended, especially for tourists heading north

on I-57 or Routes 51 and 127. The historic gridlock meant it took over two hours for commuters just to get out of Carbondale, so not being in a hurry to leave town might be a wise decision this time around. 

“Please have plans in place and be prepared to be around large crowds if you are attending total solar eclipse events or watch parties,” stated Rep. Paul Jacobs (R-Pomona). “The excitement we feel in southern Illinois is palpable, and we cannot wait to show off our charming towns and villages to area residents and visitors from around the country.”

Carbondale is not the only city or village in Illinois that will be in the path of totality. Other southern Illinois cities in the path include Makanda, Alto Pass, Fairfield, Olney, Golconda, Effingham, Mt. Vernon and Marion. A number of events and festivals are planned in various southern Illinois towns leading up to and during the solar eclipse, including Makanda, Carbondale, Newtown, Alto Pass, Albion, Carmi, Chester, Fairfield, Marshall, Olney, and Golconda.