On August 21, 2017 you will have a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to view a powerful solar eclipse. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets directly in between the Earth and the sun, blocking the sun’s rays. The darkness that results is a rare occurrence, especially in the Chicagoland area. While solar eclipses happen a few times every year, the path of totality, or total darkness, spreads over less than 1% of the Earth’s surface and only occurs for a few minutes. For example, India or Cambodia might experience a wonderful eclipse that we would never experience in the U.S. In addition, eclipses often take their path of darkness over the world’s oceans since our planet is mostly water.
The sun’s powerful rays can be very damaging to the eye’s retina. For this reason, one should never look directly at the sun. Fortunately, there are several ways to safely experience the upcoming solar eclipse
1. Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses
The American Astronomical Society (https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters) is a great resource for reputable retailers who sell solar glasses and viewers. These products have been verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety.
This is the only safe way to look directly at the sun. Sunglasses or welder’s shields will not protect your eyes from the powerful UV light that comes from the sun. Homemade telescope and camera filters arealso dangerous.This does not constitute medical advice. Readers with questions should contact a qualified eye-care professional.
In the Chicagoland area, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly. For eyeglass wearers, put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them. If you are fortunate enough to travel to the areas of totality where 100% of the sunlight gets blocked (See map), you can safely remove your solar glasses at full totality when the moon completely covers the sun. As soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases. (https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/make-pinhole-projector.html)
2. Pinhole Projector
3. Box Projector
A sturdier version of the pinhole projector is the box projector. (https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/box-pinhole-projector.html)
4. Adler Planetarium Solar Party
The Adler is hosting Chicago’s biggest eclipse block party featuring all things solar with FREE outdoor activities and safe viewing of the Sun and the eclipse! Join fellow Chicagoans and visitors to share this spectacular celestial experience together as a community. They are setting up under the Sun and filling their parking lot with programming from partners from across the city. Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on science for all ages, local food trucks, eclipse updates, and more. Additionally, all guests will get #EquippedToEclipse with free safe solar viewing glasses while supplies last.
A solar eclipse is one of Mother Nature’s grandest events. Please follow these simple rules and you can safely enjoy the spectacle and have memories to last a lifetime.