Unfortunately, the path of totatlity will not pass over Urbana-Champaign. This region will see a partial eclipse - 93%. This sounds like a lot, but our eyes are not well equipped to notice even when the Sun is blocked by 93%. There is a HUGE difference between a partial solar eclipse of 93% and the total eclipse. A partial eclipse is interesting, but a total eclipse is an experience.
The 2017 eclipse is less than 200 miles away from the University of Illinois, so of course members of the Astronomy Department want to experience this amazing event and we wish to share it with as many alumni, friends, and members of the community as possible. We are proud to be partners with the Village of Goreville - one of the best places to see the eclipse in the nation. It is the closest town to the location of longest duration, and it is an easy travel from Chicago. In addition, we are working with the University of Illinois Extension for Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Pulaski and Union (AJMPU) Counties to provide better outreach to the region.
Goreville will be one of the best places to view the eclipse in the nation. It is the closest village to the longest duration point, so it has totality for 2 minutes and 40 seconds! Goreville is also the location of Southern Illinois' largest 4th of July firework display, so they are used to handling crowds. Also, Goreville is easily located at the intersection of Interstate 57 and Interstate 24. The Department of Astronomy will have approximately 30 professional astronomers at the Goreville City Park (668 Goreville Road, Goreville, IL 62939) to explain the stages of the eclipse, to point out interesting facts related to the eclipse, and to answer any questions.
The Village of Goreville is making this a big event - with a fair-like atmosphere, food vendors, activities, and more. The Department of Astronomy will bring eclipse glasses, telescopes with solar filters (telesopes are not necessary but they can bring some features into stronger focus), a solar flare telescope, and activities for kids and adults. In Goreville, the start of the eclipse (first contact) will be 11:53 AM, the start of the total eclipse will be at 1:20.46 PM, the end of the total eclispe will be at 1:23.26 PM, and the end of the eclipse (last contact) will be at 2:49 PM. Due to concerns with parking and traffic, we suggest you arrive in Goreville early. It is anticipated that most people will leave shortly after totality.