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How and Where to Watch the 2017 Solar Eclipse

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Our earth in cosmos and bright sun. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Image: Shutterstock/Skylines

Wondering how you can watch the upcoming total solar eclipse? We’ve got the best times and spots mapped out for you.

First: Get in (or near) the Path of Totality

On August 21, the skies will provide one of astronomy’s most exciting spectacles. For a few minutes, the moon will block out the sun, allowing several states to view a total solar eclipse. This phenomenon hasn’t occurred in 38 years, since February 261979. If you’re in the path of the total eclipse (also called the path of totality), which passes over parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, you’ll see the whole event. Otherwise, you’ll see a partial eclipse. If you aren’t sure exactly how much you’ll be able to see from your location, enter your zip code here to find out.

Check out NASA’s Travel, Traffic, Weather, and Live Stream Viewing Opportunities

If you plan to travel to a location with better viewing options, NASA has created a site with travel and traffic information, as well as weather and national park viewing advice. If you prefer to stay inside for the event, you can check out NASA’s live stream as well, at nasa.gov/eclipselive.

Find Eclipse-Viewing Events Near You

The eclipse from start to finish will take between 2 and 3 hours, but the actual total eclipse itself will only last about two minutes and forty seconds (long enough for Bonnie Tyler to sing her 80’s hit song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart‘ live on an eclipse-themed cruise to the Caribbean). Keep track of other fun eclipse events going on nationally via the NASA events website here. Of course, many observatories, libraries, museums, and planetariums nationwide are holding their own events to celebrate the occasion as well. Adler Planetarium, for example, is offering a block party in Chicago with free activities and safe viewing glasses (while supplies last). Adler staff will also visit Chicago’s Daley Plaza starting at 11:30 a.m. Central Time on August 21st to provide glasses and telescope-viewing opportunities. Illinois’ point of totality is Carbondale, and there’s a countdown clock posted to follow for that region here. Other states’ points of totality and optimal times of viewing are listed here as well, including Salem, Oregon from 9:05 a.m. to 10:18 a.m. PDT, Nashville, Tennessee from 11:58 a.m to 1:28 p.m. CDT, and Charleston, South Carolina from 1:16 p.m. to 2:47 p.m. EDT.

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Grab Some Proper Safety Glasses for Viewing the Eclipse

If you don’t have your glasses yet, you’ve still got options. Space.com has provided a list of the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) approved vendors for safe eclipse-viewing glasses, which includes: 7-Eleven, Best Buy, Bi-Mart, Casey’s General Store, Circle K, Hobbytown, Kirkland’s, Kroger, London Drugs, Love’s Travel Stops, Lowe’s, Maverik, McDonald’s (in the state of Oregon only), Pilot/Flying J, Toys R Us, and Walmart.

Make Sure Your Glasses are Safe – Or Make a Pinhole Viewer (or other type of viewer)

You can (and should) make sure the glasses you have are safe for viewing the eclipse here. NASA also provides their own safe downloadable kits and 2D/3D Printable Pinhole Viewers for the event here, as well as instructions on how to make your own at home, such as this Cereal Box Eclipse Viewer. Here’s another one you can make with a shoe box. Additionally, Space.com shares that according to NASA, “any object with tiny holes can provide a safe way to watch the eclipse, including a colander or a piece of card stock with a hole. Hold the object over the ground or a piece of paper, and look at the projected shadow to create your own simple eclipse viewer. Note that you should look at the shadow of the object on the ground or paper; do not look at the sun through the object.”

Enjoy!

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy this rare and fascinating event, there’s apparently no end to the choices available! Just be sure you’ve got the right viewing materials and enjoy.

**Please note that viewing the eclipse through unsafe lenses can result in irreparable damage to your vision** 

Kristen lives in the Michiana area, where she enjoys lake-effect weather, apple orchards and occasional South Shore rides into Chicago. She can probably tell you more about apple cider vinegar than you'd ever want to know. You can reach her at: http://lakesedge.wix.com/lakesidewriting