On Mon., Aug. 21, 2017, North America will experience a total solar eclipse. The last one was 40 years ago, so be sure to experience this one. The moon will pass between the sun and the earth, blocking all or part of the sun, depending on where you are. In Naperville, the eclipse will be close to 90 percent! It will occur between 11:30AM and 2PM, so this would be a good day to ask for a long lunch hour- or the day off. If you could take a drive south, you would get a better look, too.

Two of my favorite websites regarding this phenomenon are Farmer’s Almanac and NASA. The sun and the moon appear to be the same size, but the sun is 400 times larger and 400 times further from Earth. So when the moon passes in front of the sun, it can create a total eclipse, depending on your viewing site. The eclipse will turn day into night along a 140-mile wide path. During this darkness, winter constellations will appear. During the 10 minutes before and after the total eclipse, light comes only from the edges and the colors on earth will appear more vivid and the shadows become more vibrant, too. Because the heat from the sun is blocked as well as the light, it will slowly but surely become cooler, resulting in a spooky eclipse breeze. In Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University, the eclipse will reach its maximum duration of totality. Imagine starting your semester with such an event!

It is essential that you protect your eyes during the eclipse. “Eclipse glasses” are available online or by welding goggles with shade number 12 or 14 filters. Experts say that for about the two to two-and-a-half minutes of totality, you can look directly at the eclipse. The second you see a bit a sun appearing at the edge of the moon, put the glasses or goggles back on. Your eyes will not feel pain, so take this seriously!

Amazingly, the next eclipse will be April 8, 2024, with a different path that crosses over Texas to Vermont and eastern Canada. Even more amazing is that Carbondale will again be the place to see the maximum eclipse. Make your reservations now!