PHOTOS: Solar eclipse view from Carbondale, Chicago
Southern Illinois University opened up Saluki Stadium, where scientists from NASA and the Adler Planetarium gave demonstrations. A stage was also set up for bands to perform and the stands were packed with eclipse fans.
Inside the stadium, the crowd roared as the eclipse reached totality at 1:20 p.m., which lasted two minutes and 38 seconds. Some clouds moved during totality, but the corona was able to shine through it and emerge for the last 15 seconds of totality.
Emotions ran deep; some eyes welled with tears, others applauded and cheered.
WATCH: ABC7 Meteorologist Larry Mowry's emotional reaction after totality in Carbondale
"No words. It was absolutely amazing. You just had to be there. The energy was just indescribable, just, I'm glad I had the opportunity. I'm still feeling it right now," said Charice Johnson, who traveled from Muncie, Ind.
"I've never experienced something like that before. It was a whole-first of all, would we make it in time because we were coming from Indiana. Then there's the cloud. It is, isn't it? When it happened, it was actually a spiritual thing. I loved it," said Mikki Allen, who traveled from New York City.
Alexander Albarado and his family came all the way from Panama to Carbondale.
"It's because it's a special event. It's a rare event. It's a unique event. When you see one, you want to see more. We saw the first one in 1998 in Panama. Then we traveled to France in 1999 and now this is our third one," Albarado said.
On the stadium's field, the program led by NASA scientists and astronomers from the Adler Planetarium talked through the eclipse. Weather balloons were also launched, to gather data.
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In Chicago, the eclipse started at 11:54 a.m., and peaked at 1:19 p.m. While the eclipse only hit 87 percent totality in Chicago, it was still quite a sight for onlookers.
Many people took the day off to watch the eclipse. A massive line of people waited to get into the Alder Planetarium's Chicago Eclipse Fest, where they handed out 30,000 eclipse glasses.
The Adler stopped admitting people at about noon because it was at capacity. The festival has music and games, along with indoor and outdoor eclipse viewing.
"My friends, funny story, were the ones that were like, 'Nancy, we got to leave immediately, there's going to be a line.' I made sandwiches, I made everything...they fell asleep," said Nancy Quiroz.
Those who weren't able to get eclipse glasses made their own eclipse projection boxes and pinhole viewers. Every break in the clouds over Museum Campus was an opportunity to take in the phenomenon.
People also lined up early at Daley Plaza for free eclipse glasses Monday. The Adler Planetarium gave away 10,000 pairs downtown. While the line started forming at about 7 a.m., the glasses were all gone within a couple hours.
For the numerous schools back in session Monday, the eclipse provided a learning opportunity.
At Naperville Central High School, seniors Colin Jensen and Shirley Wu have spent their lunch hours and free time working on a special independent project.
"We're trying to track the differences in fluctuations based on different conditions," Wu said.
The young scientists built an apparatus to collect data, and on Monday they tracked cosmic rays during a total eclipse.
"They get to see what real scientists are working on and even though they might take a little piece of the puzzle, it makes a huge difference in the long term," said Katherine Seguino, science instructional coordinator.
Seguino said it was about taking science to the real world level.
"It's not an opportunity that usually arises, so to be working on it with, like, all these talented people, I'm really honored," Wu said.
As the two young scientists worked on the rooftop, the rest of Naperville Central enjoyed the historic event on the football field.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see an eclipse," said student Karishma Agarwal.
The school provided every student with a pair of eclipse glasses and used the football scoreboard to count down to the moment of complete totality.
Saint Hilary Catholic School on the North Side also used the day as a teaching moment. Science teacher Calvin Andre prepared his students for the eclipse, including making pinhole projectors with his eighth grade students. He hopes the experience will make students more interested science and it is the perfect day to kick off a new school year.
"Today, we have a chance to experience this as a school, as a state, as a country, all a scientific phenomenon and then learn from it," Andre said.
The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe hosted a special musical performance, with a work titled "Eclipse" playing just as the moon crossed in front of the sun. It involved a cello and a violin playing separate lines that gradually merge into one. At about noon, the Botanic Garden said that they were at capacity.
And one family welcomed a special surprise right as the historic eclipse began. Ociel Mateo Estrada-Perez was born at 11:56 a.m. Monday, five days early. Both mother and baby are doing well.