Safely View the Solar Eclipse

A rare total solar eclipse will be visible in parts of Illinois on Monday, August 21. While the best area to view the eclipse from within Illinois is at the southern tail around the Carbondale area, those who can’t make the trip down south can still see a partial eclipse.

In Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana, viewers can expect the moon to cover 86.7 percent of the sun. The moon will be in the sun’s path beginning at 11:53am and continuing for 2 hours and 48 minutes. The best time to see the peak of the eclipse will be 1:18pm, according to NASA.

Because even a partial eclipse can be harmful to the eyes, it’s recommended that you consider some safety precautions when looking at the eclipse. Due to the intensity of the sun’s rays, NASA encourages the use of special-purpose solar filtered sunglasses, or another method that will protect your eyes. One Chicago weather broadcaster is using welding glass to view the eclipse.

According to NASA, this is only a good idea if the welders glass is of a Shade 12 or higher, which is much darker than the filters used for most kinds of welding.

“If it’s less than 12 (and it probably is), don’t even think about using it to look at the Sun,” the agency warns. “Many people find the Sun too bright even in a Shade 12 filter, and some find the sun too dim in a Shade 14 filter — but Shade 13 filters are uncommon and can be hard to find.”

Be aware that the slight crescent of the sun, known as the solar corona, which is visible despite the moon blocking the sun, can damage the retina.

Here are some additional NASA tips to help make your eclipse experience safe when admiring the solar eclipse.

  • Inspect your solar filter for scratches and other damages.
  • When about to look at the sun, stand still and cover your glasses before looking up. Never take off your eye protection while looking at the sun.
  • Looking at the sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or an alternative optical device is not recommended.
  • The same goes with using these devices as an add on to your special eye protection. “The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury” according to NASA.
  • Lastly, if you wear normal eye glasses, wear them under the special eye protection.