On Monday, the moon will block the sun from view in a total solar eclipse, casting a 70-mile-wide shadow by slipping between Earth and the sun.
The total eclipse is causing a lot of excitement because it’s the first one in 99 years.
While there is no risk to health just by being outside during a total eclipse, there is danger from looking directly at the sun with the naked eye, and special safety glasses are necessary.
Dr. Don Bucklin, regional medical director for U.S. HealthWorks, says it’s not only uncomfortable, it can cause damage to the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye.
“The sun is 400,000 times brighter than the moon, so even just a little rim of sunshine peeking out from behind that moon is enough to really, seriously damage your eyes,” he explains.
A total eclipse will be visible in part of Southern Illinois, with the best viewing times between roughly 1 and 3 p.m.
Several places around Illinois, including some public libraries, are holding viewing parties.
If you can’t make it to an event, NASA’s website will be showing the eclipse in real time, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington plans to be online live from the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory, answering questions about eclipses.
Bucklin stresses the importance of using safety glasses, saying your eyes work like a magnifying glass, and you can be blinded in about a minute.
“If you’re in that total eclipse, you can look at the sun when it’s totally hidden by the moon,” he explains. “If you’re not in that area, well then, looking at the sun will damage your eyes. We’re talking about ultraviolet radiation.”
For more information on how to safely view the eclipse, visit NASA’s eclipse safety page.