Hey fellow adventure seekers! Get ready for an astronomical spectacle – the total solar eclipse of 2024 in Illinois! Are you planning to embark on a journey to witness this rare phenomenon right here in Southern Illinois?
In this blog post, we’ll spill the beans on the best spots for prime viewing, share the best things to do in the underrated Southern Illinois area, give you some options for where to stay, and even some tips for photographing the eclipse!
- Planning for the 2024 solar eclipse in Illinois
- Where to stay for the solar eclipse 2024 in Illinois
- Things to do near Carbondale during your solar eclipse stay
- Tips for photographing a solar eclipse
Planning for the 2024 solar eclipse in Illinois
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth and completely blocks the face of the sun. Areas that are located in the center of the moon’s shadow when it hits Earth will experience a total solar eclipse.
The total solar eclipse will occur on Monday, April 8, 2024, passing over North America including parts of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
In Illinois, the eclipse will begin at 1:58pm CST and end at 2:06pm CST. Over 128 miles of Illinois will be in view of the total solar eclipse. The last total solar eclipse in Illinois was in 2017.
Other states that the eclipse will cross after passing over Mexico are Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
During the eclipse, the sky will become dark, stars will be visible, and you may be able to see a 360-degree sunset.
Is Illinois in the line of totality for the solar eclipse 2024?
Yes! Southern Illinois is in the line of totality for the solar eclipse in 2024! Carbondale is the biggest city closest to the line of totality in Illinois.
How long will we see the eclipse in Illinois?
In Carbondale, Illinois, the total solar eclipse will last 4 minutes and 9 seconds – about double what it lasted in 2017.
Where is the best place to view the 2024 solar eclipse?
Now that you know that Southern Illinois is a great place to be for the solar eclipse 2024 in Illinois, where is the best place for viewing?
However, you don’t need to be at an official viewing area to watch the eclipse! The sun will be high in the sky! Any open area will work – a park, a field, a recreation area.
What else to know about the 2024 solar eclipse
Eye safety is very important during a solar eclipse! Never look directly into the sun! Make sure to get a pair of special solar eclipse-viewing glasses before the eclipse! Regular sunglasses are not an acceptable alternative! Make sure to keep the viewing glasses on when looking through a telescope or camera as well! You can purchase safe eclipse viewing glasses at Great American Eclipse or find eclipse-viewing glasses on Amazon. Some schools will hand out free glasses to students as well!
However, during a total solar eclipse (which this will be!), viewers can momentarily remove their eclipse glasses, only during totality. Totality is the short period when the moon is completely blocking the sun. The total solar eclipse is the only type of eclipse when you can temporarily remove the viewing glasses!
Where to stay for the solar eclipse 2024 in Illinois
Hotels in Southern Illinois
You will want to figure out where you plan to stay as soon as possible if you are coming to Southern Illinois for the solar eclipse! Lodging is already booking up!
There are several hotels in Carbondale and nearby Marion, Illinois. As of the time of publishing, here are some hotels that still have availability:
- Best Western Saluki Inn in Carbondale, IL
- Candlewood Suites in Cape Girardeau, MO
If you have a hard time finding a hotel in that area, Cape Girardeau, Missouri has quite a few hotels as well. Cape Girardeau is about an hour’s drive from Carbondale. If you choose to stay in Cape Girardeau with your family, here is our ultimate guide to Cape Girardeau with kids so you can get an idea of things to do and places to eat!
Vacation Rentals in Southern Illinois
There are several vacation rentals around Southern Illinois for you to look into. Just know that the prices for the dates around the eclipse are higher than normal rates! Here are a few options that are still available as of the writing of this article!
The Red Wilderness Cabin in Marion, IL
- Sleeps up to 6
- Full kitchen
- 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
- Washer & dryer
- Air conditioning
- Outdoor space
Historic Hull House Inn in Murphysboro, IL
- Sleeps 6
- 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
- Washer & Dryer
- Air conditioning
- On the National Register of Historic Places
- No pets allowed
Cozy Home in Marion, IL
- Sleeps up to 5
- 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
- Full kitchen
- Washer & dryer
Castle Cove Lake Front Home on Lake of Egypt in Goreville, IL
- Sleeps 12
- 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms
- Washer & Dryer
- Dock with swim platform
- No pets allowed
Estate Home on Lake of Egypt
- Sleeps 18
- 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms
- Hot tub
- Washer & dryer
- Partially fenced backyard
- Swim dock
Camping in Southern Illinois
There are 31 Illinois state parks in (or right near) the line of totality for the solar eclipse in 2024.
Some of the state parks include Giant City State Park (see our list of the best hikes in Giant City State Park!) as well as Cave-in-Rock State Park, Ferne Clyffe State Park, Dixon Springs State Park, and Lake Murphysboro State Park.
Many of these state parks have campgrounds, and some of them include our favorite Southern Illinois campgrounds that we visit frequently!
Things to do near Carbondale during your solar eclipse stay
Southern Illinois is home to the Shawnee National Forest and some of the best outdoor recreation areas. Some of our favorites include Ferne Clyffe State Park, where there are beautiful, unique hikes as well as waterfalls, and Giant City State Park, where there are easy and awesome hikes for kids.
There is also the popular Garden of the Gods, which is a must-see! But did you know that Southern Illinois also has a natural bridge? And the best part is, it’s a short, easy hike to get to it!
If you are into biking, Tunnel Hill State Trail won’t disappoint! Bike through an old railroad tunnel and over trestles in beautiful scenery.
For the adventurous, try the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour, featuring ziplines and suspension bridges.
If you have any superhero fans, Metropolis, Illinois (about an hour southeast of Carbondale) is home to Superman! Take your photo with a giant Superman statue and visit the Superman museum.
Bringing younger kids along? Take them to the coolest playground they’ve ever seen – Boo Castle Park in Carbondale.
Southern Illinois also has the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, featuring awesome wineries like Blue Sky Vineyard, Honker Hill Winery, and Starview Vineyards.
Make sure you check out our list of fun things to do in Southern Illinois for families for more information on some of the above activities, plus more!
Tips for photographing a solar eclipse
Seeing a total solar eclipse is a pretty rare opportunity! I want you to be able to document it so you can always have the photos to look back on!
I will share some camera and phone tips for photographing the actual eclipse, but don’t forget to photograph your family wearing the eclipse viewing glasses, the shadows that the eclipse makes on the ground, and any fun events that are happening in celebration of the eclipse!
Camera Settings for DSLR or Mirrorless Cameras:
- Use the right equipment
- Use your longest telephoto lens. The eclipse will appear smaller than you think in a photograph!
- Get a solar filter specifically designed for photography.
- Manual Mode
- Set your camera to manual mode for better control.
- Use a low ISO setting (around 100-200) to reduce noise.
- Choose a high f-stop (around f/8 to f/16) for sharpness and to capture details in the sun’s corona.
- Shutter Speed
- Use a fast shutter speed to prevent overexposure. Start with a shutter speed of 1/1000s and adjust as needed.
- Set your focus to infinity.
- Consider pre-focusing on the sun before the eclipse begins.
- Consider bracketing your shots to capture a range of exposures and ensure you get the best image.
iPhone Photography Tips:
- Solar Filters
- Use a solar filter in front of the iPhone lens.
- Alternatively, you can try holding eclipse glasses in front of the camera.
- Manual Exposure
- Tap the screen and hold your finger on the moon to lock focus. Then slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure. On the iPhone camera app, tapping an object will center a box around it and show an icon that looks like a sun – this is the exposure slider. Just drag it down until you see details on the moon image.
- Avoid Zoom
- Use the native wide lens on the iPhone; avoid using digital zoom to maintain image quality. It’s better to crop in later if needed.
- Get in Closer
- For the best photos, get an attachable telephoto lens for your iPhone or hold your phone camera up to a telescope or spotting scope (and the solar filter from this kit) in front of the scope!
- Use a tripod or stable surface to avoid shaky shots, especially during the longer exposures required.
- Try an App
- There are apps available to help with photographing the eclipse, such as Solar Snap.
Remember to practice these settings before the actual event, and enjoy the eclipse safely by using proper eye protection. And don’t forget to look away from your camera and actually enjoy this rare event!
You can shop my photography gear here.
Let’s all cross our fingers for clear skies and cooperative weather for the best viewing experience during the solar eclipse 2024 in Illinois!
What to read next:
- Fun Things to Do in Southern Illinois with Kids
- Visit These 5 Epic Waterfalls Near Southern Illinois
- 10 Southern Illinois Campgrounds for Families to Make Lasting Memories
- 3 Must-Do Hikes at Giant City State Park
- Winter Hike at Pomona Natural Bridge
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