Despite mostly overcast skies, many people went outside midday on Monday to get a glimpse of the solar eclipse. In our area, 87 percent of the sun was obscured by the moon at the peak moment of the eclipse at 1:18 p.m.
At Riverside Brookfield High School the entire student body walked across the street to view the eclipse from the bleachers of the football stadium. Eclipse glasses, essential for viewing the event without damaging the eyes, were provided to all students.
Students in 6th period science classes measured the changes in the brightness of the light and changes in temperature during the eclipse.
Students strained to get glimpse of the sun and when the clouds scattered a bit they saw the partially obscured sun look like a crescent moon.
“I only saw like portions of it,” said junior Alyssa Parris. “It was mostly cloudy.”
Science teacher Lori Sullivan, who helped organize the event, was disappointed by the sky cover but looked on the bright side.
“I was a little disappointed that it was cloudy, but the rain held off so I was happy about that,” Sullivan said. “There was a lot of excitement this week and even the end of last week about doing that.”
At the Riverside Public Library 40-50 people gathered to watch the eclipse. The library had handed out a limited number of eclipse glasses last week and library staff helped sun-gazers build pinhole viewing devices from cereal boxes and shoeboxes.
“It was fun,” said 9-year-old Elli Barsotti. “I looked through a cereal box. I saw a little crescent moon shape. I could see some of the clouds covering it so it wasn’t as crescent as I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to turn pitch black but it didn’t.”
Cathleen Weimer of Riverside didn’t understand what all the fuss was about until she saw the eclipse.
“It was better than expected because I didn’t really have a lot of expectations,” Weimer said. “I didn’t really get what a big deal it was until it happened.”
Her friend, Michelle Sattler, bought some eclipse glasses at the Riverside Swim Club Monday morning and viewed the eclipse from Weimer’s patio.
She got her best view of the eclipse from seeing a reflection of the sun displayed on the hood of Weimer’s daughter’s VW GTI.
“At points I saw it better on the hood of her daughter’s car,” Sattler said.
As luck would have it, the skies brightened after the peak of the eclipse and after the RBHS students returned to their classrooms. Those outside during the last hour of the eclipse had the best views as more and more of the sun came into view.
Dan Wang and Darcy Lewis of Riverside were among the tens of thousands who made the trek to Carbondale to see Monday’s total eclipse. Carbondale was in the path of totality where, for just a couple of minutes, the sun was totally obscured by the moon and day suddenly turned into night.
“The eclipse was magical and profound,” said Lewis after watching the eclipse in the Southern Illinois University football stadium with thousands of others.
The drive home was another matter. It took an hour just to get out of the stadium parking lot and then four hours to go just 80 miles as I-57 was clogged with drivers heading north after the event. But it was worth the hassle.
“It was amazing, otherworldly and hot as hell,” Lewis said. “So glad we did it.”