CARBONDALE — The cosmic clock is ticking for a solar event that occurs once in a blue -- well, it's really rare.

As the Aug. 21, 2017, date approaches, Bob Baer, computer electronic specialist and co-chair of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Steering Committee, said the countdown will begin today.

For the 365-day marker, SIU will host "Eclipse 2017: One-year countdown." The event — which includes NASA eclipse preview videos and a showing of the movie "Chasing Shadows" — will not only inform students of plans for the eclipse, but will also influence them to be an active part, Baer said. 

"I am planning on previewing them on Aug. 21 at the Student Center Auditorium," he said. "I'm doing this mostly for new students to let them know what we're doing and how they could participate in the eclipse or help out, possibly volunteer."

The event will also consist of a 8 p.m. Skype interview with Nelson Quan, the producer for the 2015 documentary about a group of people who go on a quest to capture eclipses all over the world, and a 8:30 to 10 p.m. planetarium observation atop the Neckers Building.

"We'll have scopes on top of Neckers set up and then some on the ground for those with handicap issues or just if it gets too crowded on the roof," Baer said.

As SIU begins its countdown, Carbondale officials released plans for the solar event during their Wednesday morning breakfast and summit.

Major components for the city in preparation for the solar eclipse are within its transportation and safety, accommodations, and resources, said Eclipse Coordinator Diane Regan.

"We started with the idea that we are going to have a plan by July announced today," she said. "(Being) one year out from the eclipse, the second part of our plan was to brand the Carbondale Eclipse, and the next stage is to build a concrete plan in the spring and then ultimately part of the 2017 would be executing that plan."

As accommodations for the event are on hold until the Aug. 21 marker, Mayor Mike Henry said city funding for the 2017 eclipse will be sought from private grants.  

"We are pursuing private funding and we are looking for grants in the private sector for this and of course the city stands ready to spend a substantial amount of money on this to make this successful," he said. "I'm not even sure where it will be there, but it can easily be a half-million dollars." 

Other celebrations included Alto Vineyard's Solar Eclipse Pre-Party on Friday, as well as Walkers Bluff's 2017 Moonstock Countdown Party from 1 to 8 p.m. today. 

Residents can also join in on the countdown at the City's official webpage for the 2017 eclipse, which is set to be completed by Sept. 30.


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