Solar Eclipes Draws Interest Across Region
Area Businesses and Schools Are Among Those Stopping Their Work to Look at Eclipse
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The eclipse covered all but 1.3-percent of the sun in Salem early Monday afternoon as captured in this photograph.
Photo by Joel Puckett

Streets in front of area businesses and the lawns of schools were popular viewing points to look at the solar eclipse.

Many of those working in the Marion County Courthouse took time out during the height of the eclipse to watch outside. Salem City Hall had closed for an hour to give employees a chance to watch an eclipse that had crossed the entire United States.

At Salem High School, Principal John Boles said all students had an opportunity to view the eclipse through glasses.

"We weren't sure of what to anticipate with 700 kids out on the lawn. The safety concern was our biggest reason for today. As always, I love to brag on our kids. They were tremendous. They participated. We had a lot of conversations going on outside. I was extremely pleased and proud of our kids once again," said Boles.

All four of Salem High School's science teachers went to Carbondale to view a 100-percent totality eclipse. A number of other area schools also provided eclipse glasses. The path of the moon blocked 98.7% of the sun in Salem.

About 14,000 people filled Southern Illinois University's Saluki Stadium in Carbondale to watch Monday's total solar eclipse.

SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith says some clouds appeared about 6 minutes before the eclipse was to reach totality and "the entire stadium was cheering the clouds away." Goldsmith says during the totality it was very quiet in the stadium but "at the end of it people were giving each other high fives" and there was more cheering.

Experts have said the eclipse was to reach its great point of duration a few miles south of Carbondale.

The school's event included 20-person suites for $10,000. SIU also had live eclipse video on the stadium scoreboard and marching band performances. Eclipse safety glasses were provided.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner attended the viewing event.

Patrick Schueck of Little Rock, Arkansas, brought his 10-year-old twin daughters to southern Illinois to see Monday's total solar eclipse.

The construction company president and his family set up at the Bald Knob Cross of Peace in Alto Pass, which is a more than 100-foot high cross on top a 1,000 foot tall mountain. Schueck called the eclipse "one of the most moving experiences" he's ever had. He said it was "as if the sun set and rose within about three minutes."

Nearby, the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois saw the longest stretch of darkness: 2 minutes and 44 seconds. Organizers at the cross site expected more than 700 people.

Schueck said the eclipse also was "an excellent opportunity to do something with my daughters that they'll remember for the rest of their lives."

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