University News

Solar Eclipse Coincides with First Day of Fall Classes at WIU

June 12, 2017

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University students heading to their first day of fall classes, Monday, Aug. 21, will be treated to a unique experience, a solar eclipse.
The event, in which the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, will begin locally at 11:48 a.m. The maximum eclipse will be at 1:15 p.m., when the sun will be 95.2 percent obscured. Locally, the eclipse will end at 2:40 p.m. At the peak of the eclipse, the skies will be nearly dark in Macomb.
On campus, University Libraries has prepared a guide to viewing the eclipse, which can be found at and includes a variety of eclipse-related resources.
The Libraries' efforts are being coordinated by Associate Professor Linda Zellmer, the Libraries' liaison to many science departments, who said it has been almost 100 years since an eclipse crossed across the entire United States, from sea-to-sea. According to NASA, the last time this type of eclipse happened was in June 1918,
"NASA is calling this eclipse the 'Eclipse Across America' and other groups are calling it the 'Great American Eclipse.'" said Zellmer. "It will be a spectacular experience for people in the United States who are lucky enough to be in the area of totality. It will also be a special experience for people here in Macomb, including the University students, faculty and staff, where the sun will be 95 percent obscured."
WIU Associate Professor of Physics Esteban Araya will present a seminar about the eclipse at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 27 in Currens Hall 205. The lecture is sponsored by WIU Libraries and the WIU Department of Physics.
"A total solar eclipse is one of the most breathtaking natural phenomena that we can witness on Earth," said Araya. "On Aug. 21 this year, the shadow of the Moon will cross the continental U.S. in a path from Oregon to South Carolina, passing through southern Illinois. People on the path of totality will see how the Moon slowly covers the bright disk of the Sun, until the surface of the Sun is completely blocked and the day turns into night. At that moment, the corona - the hot and tenuous outer atmosphere of the Sun - will be visible. Even though the total phase of the eclipse will not be observable from Macomb, the Moon will cover most of the surface of the Sun, leaving only a small bright crescent which can be safely observed using appropriate solar filters or by projecting an image of the Sun."
One important factor is concern for eye safety for those who want to see the eclipse. It is important to have a pair of eclipse glasses to wear before attempting to look at the sun.
For additional information about the eclipse, visit

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing