SIU Journey to the Eclipse Talk Series

When: First Friday of each month, 3pm.
Where: Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library, SIUC

“Eclipse 2024: 1 Year and 1 Day”

Mike Kentrianakis

April 7, 2023

With just one year to go to the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse, SIU Carbondale will host American’s favorite eclipse chaser, Mike Kentrianakis, to talk about his experiences in observing total solar eclipses. Mike’s presentation will be preceded by a brief announcement of the upcoming eclipse 2024 events at SIU Carbondale.

“NASA’s Stunning Space Telescope”

Michelle Nichols

August 4, 2023

The James Webb Space Telescope has begun to alter our understanding of black holes, the early Universe, stars, planets, and more. Learn more about this groundbreaking mission as we explore the latest incredible images from JWST.

M. Nichols Headshot

Michelle Nichols is Director of Public Observing at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL. Ms. Nichols leads all of the Adler’s telescope, observatory, and public sky observing initiatives and events. Since 1999, she has been a popular speaker, giving hundreds of presentations to more than 130 public libraries, community organizations, and senior living facilities in the Chicago suburbs, Indiana, and Alabama.

“The Total Solar Eclipse Experience at SIU”

September 1, 2023

Experience the 2017 total solar eclipse through the lens of SIU students Malea Bailey and Marcia Kuhlman. Their video, “2.38: A Glimpse into the Eclipse,” showcases the lead up to the 2017 total solar eclipse and the amazing events that happened during the 2 minutes and 38 seconds of totality. Following will be a discussion of what to expect during the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse.

“The Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast (DEB) Initiative”

Matt Penn

October 6, 2023

The DEB Initiative is a citizen-science experiment which places volunteer telescope teams across all of North America to capture images of the upcoming annular solar eclipse and total solar eclipse. The science-quality data collected from this experiment will be used to study an array of solar phenomena.

M. Nichols Headshot

Matt Penn has worked at five solar observatories during his 30 years of doing solar research, published lots of papers, and mentored dozens of students. Now an engineer, Matt continues to pursue his passion for astronomy as a hobby and through projects like the DEB Initiative.


Blair Allen

October 13, 2023

NASA EDGE is the video podcast that takes an Inside and Outside Look at All Things NASA. Whether it’s the latest launch or the coolest gadgets, NASA EDGE hosts provide an offbeat, funny and informative look behind the NASA curtain. Meet one of the hosts of NASA EDGE and learn about some of their more interesting adventures.

M. Nichols Headshot

Blair Allen is the producer and co-host of NASA’s video podcast series, NASA EDGE. His travels for NASA EDGE have taken him around the globe, and he and his team have witnessed some amazing events in their efforts to document and share all things NASA with the rest of the world.

“Stargazing in the Past: Native American Celestial Rock Art Images in Southern Illinois”

Mark Wagner

November 3, 2023

Dr. Wagner will discuss celestial images (sun, moon, stars) in Illinois rock art. Are they images of past eclipses, or are they associated with Native American religious beliefs such as the Morning Star Myth? He will also talk about the Shawnee Prophet who correctly predicted the Eclipse of 1806, which astounded his Native American followers. How did he do this?

Dr. Mark Wagner received his graduate degrees from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His research interests include the study of Native American rock art in Illinois, the archaeology of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and the investigation of African-African-American and Underground Railroad sites in southern Illinois.
Dr. Wagner served as Past President of the Eastern States Rock Art Research Assn. and is the current President of the Illinois Archaeological Survey (IAS).

“Cast a Long Shadow: Blocking out the Sun (and Moon) …”

Ken Anderson

December 1, 2023

“The sun will still rise tomorrow” is an ancient aphorism used to reassure us in uncertain times. Its power lies in the fact that the Sun and the Moon are among the most reliably consistent parts of our experience. But there are accounts in the historic record of times when the sun and the moon did not behave as we would expect, and in many instances those times correspond to periods of considerable upheaval and unrest. What causes changes in the appearance of celestial bodies that are normally so reliably consistent, and what effects did those disruptions have on those that experienced them? This talk will explore those questions, drawing on examples from the historic record and exploring what happened when the sun, or the moon, did not behave as it should.

Ken Anderson

Dr Ken Anderson is the Director of the Advanced Energy Institute, co-director of the Ancient Practices program, and a Professor of Geology at SIUC. He grew up in southeastern Australia and received his PhD in organic geochemistry from the University of Melbourne in 1989. After working in the private sector and at Argonne National Laboratory, he joined SIU in 2003. His work is highly interdisciplinary, and he is a strong proponent of breaking down academic barriers, especially the between the humanities and the STEM disciplines.

“Before and After In the Shadow

H.D. Motyl and Mark Stoffel

February 2, 2024

Mark Stoffel and H.D. Motyl, the producers of In the Shadow, SIU’s official 2017 eclipse documentary, discuss the year-long preparation and production of the film, from developing themes and structure, to the final edit and premiere. Film clips will illustrate their journey to create a work about this wondrous event as experienced by the people of Southern Illinois and how preparations for it created a sense of community.

poster for in the shadow
H.D. Motyl is Director and Associate Professor in the School of Theater and Dance. He has produced, directed and written work for The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and A&E, and for home video and educational markets. He has a BA from Penn State University and an M.F.A from Northwestern University.
HD Motyl
mark stoffel with pretzel
Mark Stoffel’s love affair with Southern IL began in 1989 as a freshman at Southern Illinois University. After graduating he returned to his home country of Germany where he worked as a television producer for the Bavarian Public Broadcasting company. The Hills of Southern Illinois called him back, and today he lends his expertise to the College of Media Arts at SIU as a Digital Media Specialist.

“NASA’s Parker Solar Probe”

Nour Rawafi

March 1, 2024

Parker Solar Probe was launched in August of 2018. Its goal is to orbit the Sun and collect data on solar activity and space weather. On December 24, 2024, the spacecraft will reach its closest approach of less than 4 million miles from the Sun. At this distance, it will experience heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. The data collected by Parker Solar Probe will help us learn about the Sun’s atmosphere and how solar activity can affect life on Earth.
Nour Raouafi photo
Dr. Nour Rawafi is an astrophysicist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. He is also the Lead Project Scientist of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Paris XI in Orsay, France. Before joining the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in 2008, he worked at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the National Solar Observatory in Arizona.

“Eclipses, Occultations, and Transits: the Dance of the Planets”

Lou Mayo

April 5, 2024

The universe moves in quiet synchronicity; as accurate, predictable, and dependable as the finest time pieces. Ancient civilizations watched the skies and predicted the cyclical motions of the moon and planets over 3,0000 years ago. The annual progression of the sun through the sky was known and celebrated by neolithic cultures over 5,000 years ago. Today, we understand and celebrate celestial motion, anticipating close visual associations of the sun and moon, planets, and stars and even using these events to conduct scientific experiments. In this talk, we will explore the history and discoveries associated with eclipses, transits, occultations, and conjunctions, paying special attention to this year’s total solar eclipse across America, the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United Stated until 2044.

Lou Mayo photo
Lou Mayo is a planetary scientist and professor of astronomy at Marymount University. He has over 30 years experience at NASA in planetary research working on special problems of the outer solar system and served for 11 years on the Voyager IRIS and Cassini CIRS infrared science teams. He has over 20 years experience developing and implementing NASA space science education programs on both regional and national levels. He serves as Chief Scientist at GAMA-1 Technologies, and is Deputy PM for NASA’s SolarSTEAM Heliophysics outreach program. Additionally, Lou is featured weekly on SPACE ODDITIES, a show that streams on YouTube and FaceBook Tuesdays at 3pm EST.

For disability accommodations call the SIU office of Disability Support Services at 618-453-5738. For more information, email or call the SIU Events and Outreach at 618-453-7424.