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Millions take in eclipse, jamming Illinois roads and parks near path of totality

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(The Center Square) – Illinoisans went on the move Monday in an effort to get a better look at the solar eclipse.

The entire state of Illinois was able to witness Monday’s solar eclipse, but many made the trip to see totality.

The path of totality went through Carbondale and northeast to Indiana. Fifteen thousand people packed Saluki Stadium at Southern Illinois University, including SIU President Dan Mahony.

“I want to invite all of you to be a part of the SIU family on this special day as we come together in this shared human experience and witness over four minutes of totality,” Mahony said.

Jennifer Ross, one of the organizers of the eclipse events at SIU, said during the school’s eclipse live stream that the area was inundated with eclipse watchers.

“I have been able to get outside the stadium, there are thousands of people out there as well on the SIU campus and throughout the region,” Ross said.

In Carbondale, the first contact when the moon moved in front of the sun took place at 12:43 p.m., and totality occurred at 1:59 p.m.

Hotel rooms near the totality path were booked, and any room that was available reportedly went for a premium price.

With parts of Illinois and Missouri lying in the path of totality, both sides of the river were bracing for significant eclipse-related traffic. Billboards were put in place warning drivers of potential safety issues on the congested roads.

The next total solar eclipse won’t be visible from the contiguous United States until August 22, 2044, but totality will only occur over North Dakota and Montana.