Solar eclipse: 1:20 p.m. Where will you be?

Solar eclipse: 1:20 p.m. Where will you be?

The Forever Fit class at Urbana's Clark-Lindsey Village could be a bit thin this afternoon.

Lines at Busey Bank on campus, typically filled with back-to-school customers, may vanish.

School classrooms will empty, and golfers at Centennial High School's annual tournament in Savoy will tee off a half-hour late.

At 1:20 p.m., everyday life will pause as thousands of eyes in Champaign-Urbana turn skyward, cardboard glasses in place, to witness something that only happens every few decades.

A major solar eclipse will reach its peak at that moment, covering 93 percent of the sun.

The moon's shadow will sweep across the United States for just over an hour-and-a-half, from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., the first coast-to-coast total eclipse in the U.S. since 1918. In Champaign County, the moon will start to block the sun at 11:53 and reach maximum coverage by about 1:20 p.m.

It will all be over by 2:44 p.m.

The only comparable eclipse here, an annular eclipse in 1994, covered about 97 percent of the sun — all but a glowing ring around the edges, said Professor Leslie Looney, director of the University of Illinois Laboratory for Astronomical Imaging. Before that, he said, "nothing else has come close to 93 percent in a long time."

Those who haven't already gone south to Carbondale or somewhere else in the path of "totality" — called perhaps the greatest mass migration for a natural event in U.S. history — are expected to hit the streets, even just for a minute or two.

Let's just say there may not be a lot of work going on.

"I wouldn't anticipate an influx of customers at that time, because everyone's on the bandwagon for this," said Christa Dubson, assistant vice president at Busey Bank.

1:20 p.m., Clark-Lindsey Village

Monday afternoons are full of activities at the retirement village — Forever Fit exercise class at 1 p.m., Brain Boosters at 1:30, cookies and coffee in the lounge at 2.

But the action today will be in the courtyard outside Meadowbrook Health Center, where the menu at the eclipse viewing party will feature Sun-Kist soda, Moon Pies and Sun Chips, said spokeswoman Karen Blatzer. Residents will be provided with solar viewing glasses.

Retired educator Anna Merritt is ditching her favorite pastime — Scrabble on her iPad — to join the solar fun.

"Good heavens, I'm not going to necessarily be around for the next one," she said. "I've never seen one — nothing quite this dramatic."

She's already heard lectures about the eclipse — the exercise director at Clark-Lindsey is Rena Leake, wife of Parkland Planetarium Director David Leake, and emeritus astronomy professor Jim Kaler is a resident there. They're all traveling south to see the total eclipse, Merritt said.

She grew up stargazing in the Hudson River Valley, with clear views of the night sky, and learned some of the constellations.

She's excited for her granddaughters who will be watching the eclipse in Urbana schools.

"I think it's fabulous. It'll be fun to talk to them about it when it's all over," she said.

1:20 p.m., UI golf course, Savoy

Players will be positioned on various holes for the start of the annual John Macek Memorial Golf Tournament this afternoon — holding solar glasses instead of golf clubs.

When Centennial Athletic Director Brian Easter heard people talking about the eclipse a few weeks ago, he glanced at the calendar and realized it fell on the same day as the tournament, which draws 13 to 16 teams a year.

"That's going to be interesting, golfing during an eclipse," he thought.

He quickly realized it would be difficult for the golfers to focus and felt the boys should have a chance to watch the eclipse. He considered simply suspending play during the height of the eclipse but didn't think that was very practical.

So he talked to the other coaches and decided to delay the 1 p.m. start, for about 30 minutes.

Easter has already lined up solar viewing glasses for Centennial's team, and he's hopeful the other schools will, too.

"I think it's a unique enough event that kids should be able to experience it if we can make that happen," he said.

He plans to meet with coaches and players beforehand to remind them of the dangers of staring at the sun without protective glasses, as teens are prone to disregard such advice.

Like many other adults, Easter remembers watching a solar eclipse as a child through a pinhole camera made out of a shoe box.

"I would want my kids to be able to experience that," he said.

1:20 p.m., Pixo

Lots of workplaces may be quieter than usual all day today, with employees taking vacation time to go south to see the total eclipse. At Pixo consulting in Urbana, six of the 30 employees have taken the day off, including CEO Lori Patterson.

"I am getting in a car with my best friend and we're driving down to Tennessee to the Gallatin, Tenn., eclipse encounter," she said.

For those staying behind, the usual afternoon conferences and white-board sessions will have to wait: "I'm sure they'll be outside if they feel like they can see something," Patterson said.

1:20 p.m., Busey Bank

Bobby Davis and his staff at the Busey Bank branch on Sixth Street are usually busy opening new accounts for UI students on the Monday before classes start.

But Davis won an in-house caption contest — for photos of animals wearing eclipse glasses — and the first prize was solar glasses for all of the branch's employees.

"I'm really excited about it," Davis said. "I think every kid growing up wants to be an astronaut. Then reality hits you in the face, but you're still interested in the solar system."

He will let his staff take turns going outside to see the eclipse — they can't lock the doors or leave the money unprotected, after all — and if there's too many customers, he will make the sacrifice and stay inside. "I'm sure there will be a million pictures of it," he said.

Elsewhere, Busey supervisors were given discretion to let employees go outside, but only if they have solar glasses, Dubson said.

1:20 p.m., University of Illinois

While UI students are filtering back to campus, classes are still a week away. And any scientist with an interest in the eclipse is headed to southern Illinois or thereabouts for the totality, said Looney, who left Friday night.

Given the massive traffic jams that clogged I-57 Sunday, "I don't want to be on the road anytime" today, Looney said.

The entire astronomy department will be in Goreville, about 30 miles outside Carbondale, where the total eclipse will last the longest.

UI astronomers booked their campsites, cabins and hotel rooms months ago. The contingent has since grown to almost 60 people, counting postdocs, graduate students and even some undergraduates who returned to campus early so they could go, Looney said.

"Most of the astronomy department have never seen one before," said Looney, who's witnessed one previous total eclipse, in Munich, Germany, when he was working at the Max Plank Institute.

What if UI classes were in session? "It would be harder for us all to leave," Looney said, but ....

"Honestly, all the astronomers were going to be in totality no matter what," said astronomy Professor Joaquin Vieira.

The astronomers will take part in public events in Goreville and a special VIP program there for UI alumni, organized by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Six buses with 330 alumni will depart Champaign about 5:30 a.m. for the 197-mile trip to Goreville, and another group of more than 100 will drive down, including state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, said Mike Koon, a marketing communicator for the College of Engineering.

Koon agreed to forgo his day job today to be a volunteer on the trip.

"It's going to be a pretty neat day," he said.

As for other UI employees, work hours are flexible for faculty and academic professionals. And civil service workers get breaks throughout the day, so it would be appropriate for them to take a few minutes off at 1:20, said campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

"I'm sure, like everyone else everywhere else within the range of the path (of the eclipse), a lot of people will step outside," she said.

Sections (3):News, Local, State
Topics (1):People

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
stingray1970 wrote on August 21, 2017 at 8:08 am
Profile Picture

I'll be outside throwing rocks to make it all go away.  This stinks of witchcraft!