Solar eclipse 2024 draws crowds in Carbondale, Chicago and Indiana for awesome sight

Thousands flocked to Illinois, Indiana to witness rare celestial event

Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Solar eclipse appears in skies above Illinois, Indiana
The 2024 solar eclipse is in the skies above Chicago today, with a total eclipse to be visible in parts of Illinois and Indiana.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thousands gathered in Carbondale and the area round Indianapolis Monday to witness a rare phenomenon: a total solar eclipse.

Millions of people looked up to the sky to witness the eclipse, and viewing locations across Illinois and Indiana had been preparing for days.

WATCH ABC7 Chicago full 2024 solar eclipse special

The 2024 solar eclipse passed over Illinois and Indiana.

The city's partial solar eclipse began around 12:51 p.m., and by 1:33 p.m. nearly 50% of the sun was covered. By 2:07 p.m., Chicago was at its maximum solar eclipse coverage: 93.9%.

A total eclipse occurred in downstate Carbondale, and thousands of people traveled there to see the show.

The eclipse began there around 12:43 p.m. About 50% of the sun was covered by 1:27 p.m.

ABC News, National Geographic to air live 'Eclipse Across America' special

Then, a half-hour later at 1:59 p.m., Carbondale experienced a total solar eclipse. That lasted around four minutes and 10 seconds.

Total solar eclipse in southern Illinois

The crowd erupted as Carbondale experienced a total solar eclipse Monday.

The eclipse delivered: Day turned to night, as the moon blocked the sun.

The temperature dropped, winds picked up and the color of the world changed to an eerie hue.

The brilliance of the corona, which is the white streaks shooting from sun, and the red prominences, the solar plasma being ejected from the sun, were just breathtaking.

The clear skies the whole time of totality left the crowd at times hushed and in awe.

"I thought it was one of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen. It was fantastic. I was able to see a partial one in October last year in my hometown. But I came out here just to see a total eclipse, and it was beautiful, so amazing," said Cailyn from Nevada.

Thought totality lasted less than five minutes, the afterglow of this celestial stunner lingered on into the evening.

"Sort of a sense of disbelief, like wow that just happened. We just saw that," said Emory Murff, one of dozens of University of Chicago students who traveled to Carbondale for totality.

And while the trip back home was total gridlock, they said it was all worth it.

"After seeing the total solar eclipse, it's like wow. It really was worth the entire day," said Catherine See Yee Mah, student.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop Monday morning at Southern Illinois airport due to the high volume of plane traffic.

The FAA also warned pilots to carry extra fuel, as there was a possibility planes would be rerouted and put into holding patterns due to heavy volume in the eclipse zones.

Sarah Tower-Richardi traveled to Carbondale from Massachusetts.

"It was great; it was spectacular. It was a lot, a lot better than I thought it would be, so I'm glad we came," she said. "Just a lot more brilliant. I was really glad that we got to see the ring. It was quite spectacular."

Abby Finkelstein from Kenosha said she was fortunate enough to witness a total solar eclipse twice.

Amtrak's Illini and Saluki trains were operating Monday morning on modified schedules to help customers get to the area of totality in time to witness the solar eclipse.

Both trains left Chicago at 6:35 a.m., and operated on an adjusted schedule through to Carbondale, arriving at 12:05 p.m.

Many people took off work or school to see the eclipse and were excited and emotional.

Over 300 from the Chicago area were at Union Station early Monday to catch the sold-out train.

Lee Kornhauser from the Edgewater neighborhood was eager to get to Carbondale.

"You know I used to teach science, so, for me, this is a lifelong dream. I unfortunately missed the last opportunity in 2017, and I said I would not miss this opportunity, just praying that the clouds stay away and that we get a good shot at the eclipse," he said.

The celestial event brought out Denise Ybarra and her family.

Ybarra packed just a few necessities for their day trip.

"Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because they don't go bad, water, you brought your chair. I've got my chair. Yes, I've got extra socks in case my feet get wet. I'm in layers for whatever temperature it may be," Ybarra said.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the train could've been 20 cars long and it still would've sold out.

"I mean, this is an even bigger eclipse than Carbondale had last time: more minutes in totality, more national hype," he said.

Nathan Kasimer was among those who took off work Monday.

"I like astronomical things, and this is the last shot. And I had some PTO to use, so I figure this is the chance," Kasimer said.

Many hoped to feel the beauty and possibly life changing experience through this celestial phenomenon that doesn't come around often.

"Well, I mean, people just raved about the experience, and I think it's kind of potentially once-in-a-lifetime, and so I think when those moments come up, you gotta take advantage of it," Christine Fifield said.

Brooks Butler agreed.

"I know one of our friends went a few years ago, and he wouldn't shut up about it, and he's actually going again, and so, yeah, I'm excited to see what kind of feelings stir up," Butler said.

Those taking the train were excited to dodge the traffic, which is expected to be difficult Monday.

The Illinois Department of Transportation said just after 4:30 p.m. that there were some reports of crashes on heavily traveled routes.

A team from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago was in Carbondale to emcee a watch party at Southern Illinois University's Saluki Stadium.

Many have been welcomed to Southern Illinois' campus, with a full slate of events, including "Eclipse Con Strikes Back," with costumes and role play.

RELATED: How to protect your eyes during 2024 solar eclipse

"I'm excited it's lasting so long. Four minutes is a very long time. I've actually never seen a total solar eclipse," Samantha Barnes said.

University of Chicago astronomy professor Josh Frieman and dozens of his students were at the campus, too.

"We're going to be in a football stadium at Southern Illinois University. I imagine the cheering will be as loud or louder than if their football team just scored a touchdown," he said.

The town of just over 20,000 expected at least five times as many visitors for Monday's event.

And SIU opened up unused dorms for people to stay.

"The dorm is awesome, because it's just like being back at college," retired Chicago Public Schools teacher Carol Moran said.

Total solar eclipse in parts of Indiana

Parts of Indiana experienced a total solar eclipse Monday.

At Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana, many were gathered at the living history museum to watch the eclipse.

One couple made the event extra special by getting engaged.

Kim Deden was proposed to, after her fiance put the words "will you marry me" in her eclipse glasses.

Justin Bowen said she's his favorite person in the world, and he was able to pair the proposal with one of his favorite things to see in the world.

Partial solar eclipse visible in Chicago

Cheryl Scott was at Adler Planetarium witnessing a partial solar eclipse Monday.

Thousands were on the lakefront Monday to get the full solar eclipse experience

There was a special viewing party at the Adler Planetarium for the highly anticipated event.

Telescopes were also set up around the museum grounds, so people could see the eclipse for themselves.

This year's total solar eclipse is special, because it will run through much of the U.S.

The Pullman National Historical Park was also filled with excitement, as eyes will be on the skies.

Scientists said this year's solar eclipse was more visible than the last one in 2017.

Park ranger Lisa Burback recalled that celestial phenomenon.

"I'm a resident here in Pullman, so I was right here in the neighborhood, and we didn't have a place to gather as a community then for the event, which is what inspired us to put this together," Burback said.