The eclipse is (mostly) coming

Viewpoint: 

The commentary below represents the ideas, observations and opinions of the author.

If enough people run to the same side of a boat at the same time there's a risk of foundering the vessel. I hope that doesn't happen to the planet during the solar eclipse on Aug. 21 as people from around the world flock to the "path of totality" ― a narrow band that runs from Oregon to South Carolina ― to get the best view of the full eclipse.

Two Missouri communities where I once resided are in the path, and I hear from old friends and family that both are bracing for the crowds that might qualify as "hordes." Hotels have been booked solid for months. Campgrounds are full. People are planning weddings with the vows set to coincide with the few minutes when the moon will fully obscure the sun.

Will the earth wobble? We'll see.

Here in the South Suburbs, we'll see less hoopla and less eclipse. We will see a partial eclipse ― about 87 percent of the full effect. The eclipse will begin at about 11:54 a.m. and will peak at about 1:19 p.m.

The fact that it's a partial eclipse here makes it unsafe to look at the sun without proper eye protection, and for those who didn't order eclipse eye glasses in advance, it's late in the game.

There is a good alternative, though.

The Homewood Science Center, 18022 Dixie Highway, will show a livestream of NASA's coverage of the event from noon to 3 p.m. in the Michael Wexler Theater.

HSC Executive Director Edie Dobrez said there will be advantages to joining the science center to observe and celebrate the event.

It will be a chance to get a view from the path of totality without having to travel to Missouri or southern Illinois. And, it will be a chance to share this rare experience with others, she said.

The science center will also have American Astronomical Society-approved solar viewing glasses for sale for $5, with proceeds benefiting HSC.

"Regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing an eclipse, no matter what you may have heard," Dobrez said.

The HSC event will also include an opportunity to learn about the eclipse, and there will be a cardboard creations activity led by Kate Purvis and John Sowa for those who want to build their own solar viewfinders.

Dobrez noted the last time the Chicago area was this close to the path of totality was in 1925.


More inforrmation:
Eclipse eye safety: eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety
www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/chicago
www.adlerplanetarium.org/equippedtoeclipse/

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