As you can imagine, we've been getting numerous inquiries at the planetarium regarding the eclipse and viewing safety. Here are some details of the eclipse and information on observing this event.

The solar eclipse will begin Monday, August 21, 2017, at approximately 11:50 a.m. That is when the Moon will begin moving across the face of the Sun, and at first this process will be largely unnoticeable. By 1:00 p.m., however, the process will become significant, with the maximum occultation taking place at about 1:20 p.m. At this point, the Sun will appear about 90% eclipsed by the Moon. If you want to observe the event, this is the ideal time to slip out of doors and see it. After 1:20, the Moon slowly moves off the Sun, clearing the Sun's face completely by about 2:45 PM.

In Bourbonnais, the Sun will at no time be completely blocked by the Sun. This means eye protection must ALWAYS be used if directly viewing the Sun. We have distributed 2000 eclipse glasses from NASA at the Kankakee Farmers Market and sold an additional 1500 viewers from the planetarium over the course of the summer. Unfortunately, at this point we are OUT of viewers to distribute. There may still be some available at local retailers. Consult this list of reputable vendors from the American Astronomical Society if you have any questions regarding the reliability of your viewers:

What if you don't have glasses? Do you need to stay indoors? Definitely not. During an eclipse, the Sun is no more dangerous than it is on any other sunny day. Just as at any other time, the thing to remember is not to observe the Sun directly without protection. (And NEVER view it through binoculars or a telescope without proper filters.) But there are plenty of easy ways to project an image of the Sun to view. The simplest is a pin-hole projector, in which you pass light through a tiny hole in a sheet of paper onto another sheet of paper below. Find instructions at:

Even if you don't want to play with projecting an image, get outside and observe the shadows cast beneath trees. Any small opening projects an image of the Sun, so the leaves of the trees will create hundreds of tiny crescent Suns on the ground beneath.

On the day of the eclipse, the planetarium will be open from noon to 2 p.m. We will have a solar telescope set up for safe viewing of the Sun, and we will be screening live NASA coverage of the event on the planetarium dome. Feel free to stop by any time. This event is free and open to the public.

Finally, if you want additional information, the final presentation of our show on the eclipse, ECLIPSE: THE SUN REVEALED, is being played this Saturday, August 19, at 6 and 7:30 at the planetarium. Tickets are $3 per person, and I would advise being there early as we are expecting sell-out crowds.

What else can you do? Well, to be honest, I would greatly appreciate it if you would PRAY FOR CLEAR SKIES, both here and in southern Illinois.

Please contact us if you have any questions!

About Strickler Planetarium:

Strickler Planetarium, located on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, is a state-of-the-art digital planetarium dedicated to educating the public about the natural world. The planetarium, constructed in 1967, has recently undergone extensive renovations, the centerpiece of which was the installation of a new Evans and Sutherland Digistar 3 SP2 HD digital projector. This projector has all the capabilities of the previous opto-mechanical star projector as well as exciting new multimedia and full-dome video capabilities. Audiences are immersed as never before in a three-dimensional visualization of the night sky, the solar system, the galaxy, and beyond. The Digistar’s stellar database means that simulated travel through space is more than simple special effects — it’s an actual journey through an accurate model of our stellar neighborhood.

Strickler Planetarium is one of only three planetaria in Illinois with digital projection capabilities. Witness the history of the universe from its fiery birth to the formation of our solar system. Explore colliding galaxies and the dusty reaches of our own Milky Way. Take a tour from our own night sky to the edge of the solar system. Our science educators and our multimedia tools make this all possible from the comfort of your seats. Come and see the new Strickler Planetarium.