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On August 21st, 2017, a total solar eclipse path will stretch across the entire United States, with greatest duration just 50 miles south of Mt. Vernon. This Southern Illinois region is in the direct path of another solar eclipse occurring in 2024, making it a unique location for field experts and visitors alike.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's orbit crosses between the Sun and the Earth. During a solar eclipse, the Sun and Moon appear to be the same size, causing a twilight affect in the sky. Stars and planets will emerge, giving the appearance of nightfall. However, totality will only last a few minutes. During totality, the Sun’s solar corona will surround the Moon with a halo-like appearance.

Gazing at the eclipse requires special safety glasses. Check out Eclipse safety information at www.jcema.mvn.net.

Makanda, Illinois is the official centerline of both the 2017 and 2024 eclipse. The first total solar eclipse will occur at 1:21 p.m. on August 21, 2017 with partial phases starting at 11:52 a.m. and ending at 2:47 p.m. Eclipse totality will last 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Stay in Mt. Vernon August 17th- 21st and enjoy eclipse activities all weekend long during our Totality Fest. The fun kicks off on the 17th with Thursday Night Live from 5- 8 p.m. at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts.

On Friday the 18th, Broadway Market in downtown Mt. Vernon will host a special evening of Friday's Food & Art from 4- 8: 00 p.m. Enjoy a variety of local vendors, food, and live music. Cedarhurst Center for the Arts will host The Happening from 7 - 11:00 p.m. This social event will explore contemporary art and music. Then, at 8:00 p.m., enjoy a family movie at Veterans Memorial Park.

On Saturday, head downtown to support the Lymphoma Fund for Siteman Cancer Center during Ash Bash from 2- 11:00 p.m. Enjoy the Kingsman Car Club car show, live music, children's activities, local food vendors, and more. Purchase a raffle ticket for the chance to win a Harley Davidson motorcycle. All proceeds from this event go to the Siteman Cancer Center and St. Louis Children's Hospital. The Aquatic Zoo Outdoor Waterpark will hold a family evening swim from 6:30- 9:30 p.m. Take a ride on their two waterslides, lazy river, lap pool, and children’s splash area. Need a laugh? Come to the Mt. Vernon High School Schweinfurth Theatre for an adult improv night! More details, including time of event, to come.

On Sunday, the 20th, Lowery's Irish Pub will host a Sunday Funday. Get a taste of Mt. Vernon from local restaurant catering and wine and beer tastings. Also, participate in the bags tournament, and an Illinois lottery giveaway all free of charge! At 7:00 p.m., listen to a lecture on the solar eclipse presented by Rend Lake College professor, Greg Hollman, with star gazing to follow at the Mt. Vernon High School Schweinfurth Theatre.

Tours of the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Appellate Courthouse, Jefferson County Historical Village, and The Hall of Honor & Military Museum will be available all weekend.

Witnessing a solar eclipse is an experience to remember. Stay here. Play here. Then, head south on Monday and experience totality!