MAKANDA, IL (KFVS) - Excitement is building ahead of an out-of-this-world event that's still more than a year away.
The Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017 will plunge a portion of southern Illinois into mid-day darkness, and tens of thousands of spectators will venture to Jackson County to experience it.
Solar Eclipse Project Manager Mike Kentrianakis with the American Astronomical Society is among those looking forward to the Great American Eclipse.
Kentrianakis is somewhat of an eclipse chaser. A video he shot onboard Alaska Airlines flight #870 recently went viral, as Kentrianakis just couldn't contain his excitement at seeing a total solar eclipse for the first time at 35,000 feet.
"This video I couldn't believe what I was saying," "I even laughed when I heard my voice breaking. I wasn't myself. An eclipse reaches into something inside you as everything is changing. The sun goes out, the moon comes in the landscape is different; there is darkness in the sky, the shadow of the moon… I've got everyone the world over making fun of me, but they keep saying it's a great video. It shows the excitement. An eclipse itself, it's hard to show an eclipse there is no video that can do it."
Gallatin County High School science teacher and filmmaker Lindsay Adams is trying to do just that. She hopes to capture the excitement leading up to the total solar eclipse in southern Illinois on video – and her first endeavor was booking a seat on flight #870 from Alaska to Hawaii to record the March 8 total solar eclipse that was not visible in the continental United States.
"It was a perfectly clear shot, in my video you see the wing of the plane and that's it - it's just the sky and the sun," said Adams. "The video is going to be part of my documentary I'm making about southern Illinois, mostly Carbondale and how they're preparing for the eclipse."
Adams will also encourage her students to study the eclipse and make their own films on the once-in-a-lifetime event.
"There's a lot of science involved and it doesn't happen very often and it's going to go right over their school and the area that they live," said Adams. "They'll get to be right in the middle of it and learn the science and get to see the telescopes and it's going to bring multiple subjects together."
Astronomers say Carbondale will be right in the center of what's called the path of totality. That means a front-row seat for the first total solar eclipse to sweep across the United States since 1918.
"Totality is – that's what everyone's going to be amazed at when it happens in Carbondale," said Adams. "When the moon covers up that last sliver of sun and you take off those glasses – that is amazing.
The small town of Makanda, south of Carbondale sits at the exact center of the path of totality. Shop owner Dave Dardis painted an orange line straight through the center of the town's famous boardwalk to mark the location.
"When something ethereal, cosmic comes through an artists' town – you make it real," said Dardis. "So this is a real line that goes through the shop and out the back door."
Estimates put an additional 50,000 to 100,000 sets of eyes heading into southern Illinois' portion of the path of totality in August 2017. The tiny town of Makanda is banking on a boon for local businesses.
"We're preparing for Woodstock, basically," said Makanda resident and eclipse planner Joe McFarland. "The other really cool thing about Makanda is we're going to have another total solar eclipse seven years later in 2024. That one will cross over Makanda too – so we are the eclipse crossroads of America. That's our claim to fame."
The American Astronomical Society will be holding a pre-eclipse conference at Southern Illinois University June 10 and 11.