Metro-East News

Here’s a quick eclipse refresher as the big day arrives

How to help your kids safely view the solar eclipse

St. Louis Children's Hospital Eye Center offers these tips on enjoying the solar eclipse while protecting kids' vision.
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St. Louis Children's Hospital Eye Center offers these tips on enjoying the solar eclipse while protecting kids' vision.

The solar eclipse we’ve all been waiting for is nearly here. On Monday, the moon will move directly in front of the sun for just a couple of minutes, and the metro-east is right in the path of totality.

Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about Eclipse Day 2017:

Q: What is the eclipse, anyway?

A: A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and earth are in alignment and the moon crosses in front of the sun. The moon covers the face of the sun, resulting in several hours of near-darkness during the day as the moon’s shadow races across the earth. Some areas of the U.S. — a 73-mile swath — will be in the path of totality, meaning people in that area can witness the sun completely covered by the moon. Others, however, will only be able to see a partial eclipse based on how far they are from this center path.

Q: When exactly will the eclipse happen?

A: It depends on where you are. The eclipse will begin on the west coast, and the moon’s shadow will begin traveling across the nation, causing a partial or total eclipse as it goes. Only parts of the metro-east are in the path of totality, meaning only a partial eclipse will be visible in certain places.

In Belleville, the moon will begin moving across the sun at about 11:50 a.m. in the center of the city. The eclipse will reach its maximum at 1:18 p.m. and will be completely over at 2:44 p.m. Just south of Main Street, the eclipse will reach a few seconds of totality at 1:18 p.m.

Cahokia, Millstadt, Freeburg, Columbia and Waterloo will experience up to 45 seconds of totality at 1:18 p.m.

NASAmap
This map shows the path of the moon’s umbral shadow —in which the sun will be completely obscured by the moon — during the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017. NASA

In Carbondale, one of the cities in the U.S. with the best view of the eclipse, the partial eclipse will begin at 11:52 a.m. The total eclipse will begin at 1:20 p.m. and last two minutes, 37 seconds.

For more information on eclipse times and locations, visit eclipse2017.org.

Q: So where’s the best spot to go for the eclipse in Southern Illinois?

A: Carbondale will see the longest duration of a total eclipse. However, NASA scientists, who will be in the city for the eclipse, said the town’s population could double. Lodging, driving and parking will all be more difficult due to the amount of people in the area.

Other cities in the area will experience totality, just not for as long, and will have a variety of viewing parties. SIUE will display an enlarged, live video of the eclipse from a telescope at Korte Stadium, 3345 Stadium Drive, in Edwardsville. The Collinsville Library, 408 West Main St., and St. Louis Science Center, 5050 Oakland Ave., St. Louis will also have observation events.

If you want to avoid the outside world entirely, NOVA will show the entire event on “NOVA: Eclipse Over America” at 9 p.m. Monday on KETC-TV.

Dr. Joshua Wilson, of Advance Vision Care in Belleville, discuss solar eclipse eye safety during a Facebook Live broadcast with Belleville News-Democrat reporter Kelsey Landis on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017.

Q: What’s the deal with these glasses?

A: In order to safely view the eclipse, you will need special eclipse glasses. Looking at the sun without protection can cause permanent eye damage and even blindness, according to the University of California. The glasses must be ISO 12312-2 certified.

You can look at the total eclipse without glasses because the sun will be covered, but the partial phases should be viewed with glasses on. As of Friday afternoon, most outlets in the metro-east were out of the glasses.

Q: Will schools be closed?

A: Belleville districts 118 and 201 will be open, but students will be given eclipse glasses and taken outside for viewing. (District 201 will require parental permission for viewing.) Edwardsville, Granite City, Holy Family School and Brooklyn schools will be closed. Many schools will hold activities and lesson plans based on the eclipse.

Eddie Agha, who leads astronomical observations at The Nature Institute in Godfrey, talks about the solar eclipse set to hit the United States on Aug. 21, 2017, with parts of Southern Illinois being in the path of totality.

Q: So what will the eclipse be like?

A: Some describe a total eclipse as “a religious experience.”

The environment and the sky itself will change completely. As the moon’s shadow creates partial or total darkness during the day, the temperature will drop and animals will act like it’s nightime; crickets will chirp and birds will sing evening songs, according to Eclipse 2017. Stars and planets will be visible and nightfall will descend in the middle of the day, and the sun’s solar corona will shine around the edges of the moon.

Q: Will there be another eclipse?

A: The next total solar eclipse over the U.S. will be April 8, 2024.

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