Ken Anderson

November 22, 2023

Talk at SIU to focus on link between eclipses and societal upheaval

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A Southern Illinois University Carbondale researcher with a background in geology, chemistry and the humanities, and an interest in interdisciplinary studies, will give the December “Journey to the Eclipse” talk, focusing on times when, according to the historic record, the sun did not behave as it should.

Ken Anderson, director of SIU’s Advanced Energy Institute, co-director of the Ancient Practices program, and a professor of geology, will give the monthly address at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, at the Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library. The talk series, which corresponds to the upcoming April 8 total solar eclipse in Southern Illinois, is free and open to the campus and public.

Anderson's talk, titled "Cast a Long Shadow," will discuss historical accounts of times when the sun or moon behaved unexpectedly.  He will delve into what caused those changes in the appearance in these two most prominent and normally reliable celestial bodies, and what effects those disruptions had on humans who experienced them. 

A native of southeastern Australia, Anderson received his doctorate in organic geochemistry from the University of Melbourne in 1989. After working in the private sector and at Argonne National Laboratory, he joined SIU as an associate professor in 2003 and was promoted to full professor in 2007.  

A strong proponent of breaking down academic barriers, especially those between the humanities and the STEM disciplines, Anderson’s research interests span geology, chemistry and engineering, and courses that he teaches are accepted for credit in geology, chemistry, history and classics.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Anderson is an entrepreneur who runs a small business spinoff resulting from his work at SIU.

The “Journey to the Eclipse” series is aimed at bringing together experts in astronomy, solar eclipses and other sun-related topics for students, faculty and staff of SIU, as well as members of the Southern Illinois community. The monthly series began in April, with each talk set for 3 p.m. on the first Friday of each month in Guyon Auditorium. 

The talks also will stream live via Zoom and be recorded. For more information and links, go to