Harper College is gearing up for the first total solar eclipse to sweep the entire width of the contiguous United States in nearly a century.
The College will hold a viewing event from noon to 2 p.m. Monday, August 21, in front of the Avanté Center (Building Z), on the College’s main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine.
Three telescopes equipped with solar filters will be set up, and a limited quantity of solar viewers will be available. There will also be stations to make pinhole cameras, UV light bracelets and learn why you shouldn’t look directly at the sun.
The community is invited to bring a picnic and catch the eclipse, weather permitting.
“A partial solar eclipse is interesting; a total solar eclipse is breathtaking,” astronomy Professor Bhasker Moorthy said. “This one is being called the Great North American eclipse because it can be seen from Oregon to South Carolina.”
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth. A partial eclipse takes place when only part of the sun is blocked. Every few years, the moon completely blocks out the sun, resulting in a total solar eclipse. It’s been 38 years since a total solar eclipse was visible in the continental U.S., but that was limited to the northwestern part of the country.
While the eclipse’s path of totality on August 21 will pass through the Carbondale area, viewers at Harper will see the moon obscure up to 87 percent of the sun at about 1:18 p.m.
And if you happen to miss this one, you won’t have to wait too long. The next total solar eclipse visible from this area will take place in 2024 (amazingly, Carbondale will again lie within the line of totality).
Moorthy cautions anyone watching the eclipse to protect their eyes and never stare directly at the sun. Even with eclipse glasses, you shouldn’t stare continuously at the sun.