What you need to know about today’s solar eclipse
Today, we are in for a very special treat. Cities across the nation will witness a near total solar eclipse. It’s the first to cross the entire contiguous United States in 99 years.
In Chicagoland, starting at 11:45 am, many people will have their eyes on the sky as the moon starts to block our view of the sun. Eventually, at approximately 1:19 PM, the moon will cover 87 percent of the sun, creating one of the most exciting astronomical events of the century.
“But before you look up, you must be prepared.” says Dr. Shivan Tekwani, an ophthalmologist affiliated with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “You’ll need to make sure you have the proper protective eyewear, which are special glasses made especially for viewing an eclipse. Regular sunglasses are NOT safe for viewing an eclipse.”
Dr. Tekwani says it’s very important to keep these eclipse glasses on, which contain special material that prevent harmful amounts of light from reaching your eyes, while you’re looking at the eclipse. “Our eyes are sensitive to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and viewing without protection can cause injuries, including permanent damage to your vision, even if you look at the eclipse for just brief periods of time.”
The medical term is “solar retinopathy” and it’s “very similar to burning a hole in the retina,” says Dr. Tekwani. “Even though the moon will cast a shadow over the brightness of the sun, the sun is still very much emitting this dangerous ultraviolet radiation.”
So, put on those eclipse glasses from 11:54 am to 2:30 pm when looking up. If you don’t have the glasses, or handheld solar viewers, the American Astronomical Society warns against trying any homemade filters. The Adler Planetarium website also has great information about the eclipse.
About the Author
Kate Eller was a regional director of public affairs and marketing operations for Advocate Health Care. She enjoys road trips, dogs, minimalism, yoga, hiking, and “urban hiking.”