Partner Series

Hey, space fans, the Great American Solar Eclipse is here at last, and I'll be covering the event for Space.com from Carbondale, Illinois, at Southern Illinois University and chronicling the trip from here. Joining me on this journey will be Live Science's Denise Chow, collectSPACE.com's Robert Pearlman and YOU! Reach me here and on Twitter here, and let's get to the eclipse:

Carbondale, Illinois

5:06 p.m. CDT, Aug. 21

The Great American Solar Eclipse is has come and gone and oh what an eclipse it was. From high drama from clouds to a few brief seconds of totality before clouds definitely set it, it was truly an amazing event. Here's my full story from today and I hope everyone in Carbondale and at Southern Illinois University had an awesome experience like the Space.com team did. 

Rare Coast-to-Coast Total Solar Eclipse Thrills Millions Across U.S.  
The moon's dark shadow swept across the United States in a total solar eclipse today, thrilling millions of spectators with a Great American Solar Eclipse, from sea to shining sea.

9:41 a.m. CDT, Aug. 21

Hey, Space Fans! It's eclipse day at last here in Carbondale, and it is a hot, bright sunny day at Southern Illinois University for the total solar eclipse. It is a hot, bright day here for sure! I'm reporting from the press box at Saluki Stadium. Denise Chow of Live Science has this awesome gallery of eclipse views from Carbondale. The stadium is open, and eclipse chasers are filling up the stands now. In a couple of hours, we expect three research balloons to launch from the field. Space.com was just up on the scoreboard (we're a media partner)! Woot!

Check my Twitter and our main total solar eclipse page for all future updates from today. I'll be back here sporadically throughout the day. 

8:30 a.m. CDT, Aug. 20

Good morning, space fans! Just a quick note to give you the Space.com team rundown here in Carbondale. At 1 p.m. local time today, we're planning to get an eclipse update from NASA here at Southern Illinois University, then visit a dark-sky site where professional and citizen scientists are setting up gear to observe tomorrow's eclipse. 

Here at SIU, there's a Comic-Con going on, as well as a craft fair and carnival, which we'll check out when they open later this morning. In town is an eclipse marketplace, too. And tonight, Matt Kaplan of Planetary Radio will host a discussion of the eclipse. 

Carbondale is abuzz with eclipse excitement. 

"Everybody is closing down; even my bank is closing for just for an hour, so that everyone can experience it," Jennifer Zenone, 47, who lives just outside of town and works at the Flame steakhouse while studying rehabilitation counseling at SIU. "It's a good thing. Little towns like us need that kind of thing every once in awhile."

Carbondale city manager Gary Williams said he could never have dreamed that the town would have an event with such a large appeal, though it's no stranger to crowds with football games at SIU's Saluki Stadium.

"There has never been a time when the spotlight has shined so brightly on Carbondale, so we see this as an amazing opportunity for us, and SIU, to introduce ourselves to the rest of the country and the world," Williams told Space.com. "In the past few weeks, I've seen advertisements for eclipse cookies, eclipse waffles, eclipse beer, eclipse bourbon, and lots of other creative ideas. It's been nice to see so many local businesses and residents explore ways to market this event."

10:30 p.m. CDT, Aug. 19 

Whew! It was a long day, but Denise, Robert and I all made it to Southern Illinois University here in Carbondale, where the anticipation is high for the solar eclipse. We're staying in dorm housing at SIU, where eclipse chasers have been arriving all day (amid students moving in) to settle in ahead of Monday's solar eclipse. 

The town of Carbondale included a welcome packet complete with maps, schedules and other information for visitors looking to make the most of their Eclipse 2017 experience. 

While leaving the airport in St. Louis earlier, I met Jennifer Ehrich, a geologist from Houston who was headed to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with her husband Andy and their 10-year-old daughter Miranda (named after the moon of Uranus) to see the eclipse. The trip is one Ehrich has been planning for 25 years, ever since she found out in 1992 that a total solar eclipse would occur on Aug. 21, 2017. That means it will happen on her 44th birthday. 

"This, for me, seems like the most magnificent natural phenomena that anyone could ever see," Erich told me today. "And the fact that it's my birthday, too, made it my calling."

Erich and her family originally planned to observe the eclipse with friends in Carbondale but are now planning to stay flexible around nearby Cape Girardeau to get the best view. They even took Miranda out of fifth grade (classes began last week in Houston) so she could experience the eclipse. 

"I'm the only one in my class who's going," Miranda said. (She'll be expected to give a full report to the class when she returns, Andy Ehrich said.) Miranda also made her mother an eclipse bracelet that shows a disk moving from light to dark like the phases of the eclipse, with orange trim. 

Tomorrow, NASA will hold a press conference here at 1 p.m. CDT (2 p.m. EDT/1800 GMT). We'll have more on that tomorrow, but for now, good night from Carbondale

Here's a look at our road trip so far:


St. Louis, Missouri

11:27 a.m. CDT 

As I wait here for my team, I learned about the lost productivity forecasts from workers stopping to watch the solar eclipse. Check it out:

Total Solar Eclipse Could Cost US Nearly $700 Million in Lost Productivity 
Based on an analysis from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the worker outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. estimates that employers could lose as much as $694 million because of the solar eclipse, which occurs during a workday, company representatives said in a statement.


10:33 a.m. CDT, Aug. 19

Hello from St. Louis! I'm not in Carbondale, Illinois, just yet, but it should be only a two-hour drive to the college town (and Southern Illinois University) once the rest of the Space.com trio arrives. I'm here at the St. Louis Lambert International Airport to meet up with Denise and Robert for the final leg of our trip.

On the Southwest flight from Newark, New Jersey, I had some nice conversations with fellow passengers about the solar eclipse, but none of them were traveling to see the celestial event. In fact, the two familes I spoke with were headed to Las Vegas, where a partial solar eclipse will peak at 10:27 a.m. PDT on Aug. 21. (Thank you Eclipse Safari app!)

Here's handy guide with links to find out what time the eclipse is where you are.

One group is using Las Vegas as a base to visit the Grand Canyon. The three travelers plan to scour the city for eclipse glasses and filters for their cameras. I wished them good luck, and they're on their way.

In the meantime, there's a clear blue sky over St. Louis today. Let's hope that weather holds.

Next stop: Carbondale!


Aug. 19 in Newark, New Jersey

4 a.m. EDT 

Well, it's finally time! After years of planning and waiting, travel day is here for the 2017 total solar eclipse! I've got my bag packed, my eclipse glasses and gear. All that's left now is to get to Carbondale, Illinois, and see the eclipse. 

With 14 states to choose from to see totality on Aug. 21, picking an observing spot was a challenge. I chose Carbondale back in April after meeting with veteran eclipse chaser Mike Kentrianakis at the Northeast Astronomy Forum in Suffern, New York. Mike is the American Astronomical Society's project manager for the Great American Solar Eclipse, and he suggested Carbondale was THE place to be for this eclipse. 

Why?

Well, it turns out that Carbondale gets not just one eclipse, but two. On April 8, 2024, ANOTHER total solar eclipse will pass over the college town of 30,000 residents! Carbondale is also near the region of greatest eclipse duration for Aug. 21, 2017, according to NASA. We should see 2 minutes, 38 seconds of totality. A spot just south of Carbondale will see 2 minutes, 40 seconds, NASA states in a press kit

And Carbondale itself is celebrating BIG. In addition to the town's Shadow Fest music festival, there's a carnival, a comic-con, a craft fair and more. I'm hoping to find a fun eclipse tie, and a solar eclipse/space cat shirt for my 8-year-old daughter. (Shh, don't tell her. It's a surprise!)

Then there's Southern Illinois University, the school that puts the "college" in Carbondale's "college town." The university is hitting the eclipse hard, with a major festival based at its 15,000-seat Saluki Stadium. SIU's Bob Baer helped guide Space.com on what to expect during the eclipse, and it is looking like an awesome day. [Full disclosure: Space.com is listed as a media sponsor of SIU's event.]

Not only will the stadium be packed with spectators, but NASA's NASA Edge team will host a 4-hour "Megacast" from just outside the stadium. (That Megacast will be posted live here on eclipse day.) 

A huge group of scientists and students will participate in observing the eclipse on the stadium's football field, and will release three balloons to capture views of the eclipse from above. Another contingent of scientists is a short distance outside the university at a dark-sky site away from the crowds. 

So it's shaping up to be an AWESOME event. All we have to do now is get there. (And hope for good weather). Join us on our trip, and you can share your eclipse experience with Space.com by sending in your stories to eclipse2017@space.com

And don't forget to visit Space.com on Monday for live video of the solar eclipse from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT (1600 to 2000 GMT)!

Keep looking up!

~ Tariq