Thousands flock to downstate Illinois to witness the solar eclipse

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- People are getting on trains this morning to get a better view of the solar eclipse downstate.

The "Eclipse Express" departed from Chicago's Union Station at 3 a.m. with more than 400 on board.

The train is heading to Carbondale and is scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m.

Thousands of others are expected in Carbondale today, and WGN's own Tom Skilling made the trip to Carbondale to cover the big show.

WGN's eclipse coverage from the Carbondale area will begin Sunday, August 20th on the 5:00 PM News, through "live" coverage of the total eclipse on Monday at 1:21 pm. If it's clear, Chicagoans should see a healthy eclipse with the sun about 89% covered. And, as rare as these things are, ironically, Carbondale will be near the centerline of another total eclipse in just six years, so if you can't make it to this one, mark your calendar to head for Carbondale for April 8, 2024.

Finding a hotel in the path of totality is unlikely now, though you may still be able to find a campsite. Roads are expected to be jammed or even closed. And stores and restaurants could be overwhelmed. The best advice is to take what you need with you, and just know that if skies are clear, you'll likely be part of a very large crowd.

And think about this from Cernan Space Center earth and space educator Dan Joyce. He says people, especially in large metro areas, have long ago stopped looking at the sky because in cities like Chicago, with so much light pollution, it's almost worthless. So how many people would even give a passing thought to such an idea as space-based solar power? That very moon which will be covering the sun could easily support habitations which could create solar power stations there which could eliminate any incentive for fossil fuel burning or nuclear power stations. It will probably be darker in mid-day in the totality track than Chicago at midnight!