Forest Preserve sites host solar eclipse viewing parties on April 8

It won’t be a total solar eclipse for the Chicago area, but forecasters say it will be close. The path of totality for today’s eclipse will be much further south and east today, but Chicagoland should see about a 94-percent eclipse. As daylight will turn to dusk for a few minutes. Millions are expected to be scattered across southern Illinois. Carbondale lands directly in the path of totality.

Grab your eclipse sunglasses. Chicago expected to be sunny with the eclipse beginning at 12:51 p.m. with peak totality from 2:07 to 2:11 and goes to 3:22 p.m.

If you want to find a nice spot outdoors to watch the April 8 solar eclipse, the Forest Preserve District is offering three viewing parties.

Solar-bration: Solar Eclipse Viewing Parties are scheduled for 1:30-2:30 p.m. at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve in Crete Township, Hickory Creek Preserve – LaPorte Road Access in Mokena and Whalon Lake in Naperville.

The free, all-ages programs are timed to coincide with the total solar eclipse that will pass through Illinois. A total solar eclipse will not occur again in the United States until 2044.

The first 50 attendees at each program will receive free viewing glasses to safely view the event. The party will also include eclipse activities, marshmallow toasting and a roaring fire. If it is cloudy or rainy, the viewing parties will not be held. Attendees should bring their own chairs or blankets.

If you want to be even more prepared for the eclipse, check out a weekend Solar-bration: Get Psyched about the Solar Eclipse program that is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 6, and Sunday April 7, at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon.

Registration is not required for the viewing parties or the weekend prep program.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is reminding everyone that you will cause serious and potentially permanent eye damage if you look directly at a solar eclipse. Dark sunglasses are not safe for viewing the sun.

“To directly view the eclipse, people must use special safe eclipse viewers which meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard,” IDPH warns. “Check the link to see if your eclipse viewers meet this standard.”

You also can safely view an eclipse with a pinhole projection, according to NASA.

While the eclipse will be visible in all 48 contiguous states, there will only be a “total” eclipse closer to the path that is outlined by NASA on a map on its website. The path of totality will be visible from southern Illinois and less so from northern Illinois.