Now is the time to start planning your solar eclipse activities

| July 9, 2017 | Comments (0)

Eclipse double stampThe August 21 solar eclipse will be the first total solar eclipse visible across the entire contiguous United States since 1918. Often called the “Great American Eclipse,” the event will be visible in totality only within a band across the entire U.S. mainland, according to Wikipedia.

The Adler Planetarium notes that “While Chicago is not in the path of totality, at 11:54 am CST, the Moon will start to block Chicago’s view of the Sun, covering up to 90 percent of it and creating a spectacular sight. The last time Chicago was this close to the path of totality for a total solar eclipse was over 210 years back in 1806.”

What’s great about living in the Chicago area is that there are numerous activities planned to coincide with this once-in-a-lifetime event. No matter where you live, there will be an event near you.

Adler Planetarium

America’s first space museum declared 2017 “The Year of the Eclipse.” A temporary exhibit, Chasing Eclipses, immerses visitors in the “spine-tingling, goose bump-inducing experience of a solar eclipse. Guests will find inspiration in eclipse chasers from history, discover the cosmic scale of being in the shadow of the Moon, and prepare to chase down the great solar eclipse on August 21the first total solar eclipse in the United States in 38 years.

On August 21, the Adler will be free for everyone. A huge block party will have lots of family-friendly activities with hands-on science, live entertainment and more. Partners from all over the Chicago area will have booths on the museum campus streets. “Chicago viewers should be able to see the eclipse at 90 percent totality. Guests will receive free solar viewing glasses, talk with Adler experts, and share the experience with 10,000 other space enthusiasts.” For more information, visit

Cernan Earth and Space Center at Triton College (River Grove, IL)

For those who like some scientific data with their eclipse planning, the partial solar eclipse, as viewed in River Grove, will be at Lat.: 41.9176° N, Long.: 87.8425° W with 86.79% obscuration. How’s that for fun facts that will impress your friends? Outdoor events invite the public to “view” the eclipse using these tools and displays:

  • Reflecting telescope with full aperture solar filter
  • Sunspotter folded solar telescope on a cart
  • Set up of other indirect methods: colander, peg board, etc.

Indoors guests are invited to attend an 11 am Totality program presented in the Planetarium and view streaming video (using large projector from Triton AV) in the Planetarium dome. For more information, visit  All events are free and open to the public.

Cook County Forest Preserves

Telescopes will be ready for viewing during the entire partial eclipse in four different locations. Astronomers will be on hand to answer questions and supervise the properly-filtered telescopes. These events are free at locations covering the entire Cook County area. Be sure to click on the links to find the times and details.

Partial Solar Eclipse
Sand Ridge Nature Center, South Holland

Crabtree Nature Center, Barrington Hills

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Willow Springs

(Almost) Total Solar Eclipse
Trailside Museum of Natural History, River Forest

United States Postal Service

To mark this occasion, the United States Postal Service is issuing a really cool first-of-a-kind stamp that transforms from an image of the eclipse to the moon from the heat of your finger. In the first U.S. stamp application of thermochromic ink, the Total Eclipse of the Sun stamps will reveal a second image. Using the body heat of your thumb or fingers and rubbing the eclipse image will reveal an underlying image of the Moon. The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools. Thermochromic inks are vulnerable to UV light and should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to preserve this special effect. To help ensure longevity, the Postal Service is offering a special envelope to hold and protect the stamp pane for a nominal fee, according to the U.S.P.S. website.

The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp, which is always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price. The back of the stamp pane shows the eclipse path from Oregon to South Carolina. This stamp image is a photograph taken by retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak of Portal, AZ, who is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on total solar eclipses with 27 under his belt.  The photograph shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006.



Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times the Fun. Image courtesy of the United States Postal Service. #August21


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About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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