The temperature was a hot and humid 93 degrees in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, on Monday, Aug. 21. Only a few minutes out of the car, I already was sweating as I, Staff Photographer Zach Straw, and Marketing and Circulation Coordinator Jordan Evans trudged up the inclines of the state park, hoping to find a place on one of the bluffs overlooking the Ohio River.
Like many others that day, we were there to catch the first total solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1979. Cave-In-Rock was along the path of totality. The event — the focus of the feature in the July/August issue of Evansville Living — was promised to be a cosmic oddity not to miss. One hundred and sixty seconds of darkness beginning around 1:30 p.m.
We lucked out and found a seat on one of the cliffs. As we spread out blankets and put on our solar glasses, we talked with those around us. Ironically, we were next to two Evansville residents Janie and Peyton Antes. Janie told her husband that morning the event was too great to miss.
I can’t remember the exact time totality hit, but the effects were something to behold. People cheered and clapped. As I snapped a picture, my hands shook.
The colors of a sunset were all around us. The temperature dropped and cooled the air, and nearby crickets began to chirp. Venus — known as a morning star — shone brightly in the darkened sky. For nearly two minutes, we all witnessed this event in complete awe. Then we watched as the moon moved away from the sun and the light poured back onto the landscape.
Evansville saw only a 99 percent total eclipse, prompting many to ask what the big deal was — it seemed as if only a large cloud passed over the sun that afternoon. From my vantage point on the bluffs in Illinois, it was everything I was told it would be and more. The River City will be luckier in 2024 as another total solar eclipse is set to pass over Evansville. Take my advice and be sure to catch this event — I promise you’ll see what all the fuss is about.