Saturday, April 20, 2024

Connect with us:

April 8 solar eclipse – what it is, and how to safely watch

LANSING, Ill. (April 1, 2024) – Astronomers, researchers, and enthusiasts across the country are preparing for the upcoming total solar eclipse, a celestial phenomenon that won’t be visible from the United States again for another 20 years. On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the contiguous United States, beginning over the Pacific Ocean, crossing North America from Mexico to Canada. The path of the eclipse will enter the United States in Texas, and will travel through parts of several states, including Illinois.

About the solar eclipse

According to NASA, a total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. Those located in the center of the moon’s shadow will experience a total eclipse when the shadow hits the Earth. The sky will temporarily darken, similar to if it were dusk or dawn. Observers will be able to see the sun’s tenuous atmosphere, the corona. This occurrence is known as an eclipse’s path of totality. Millions of other observers will be able to enjoy a partial solar eclipse, in which the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

Americans haven’t witnessed a total solar eclipse since August 21, 2017 — and, if missed this year, won’t have the opportunity again until August 23, 2044. During the last total solar eclipse, an estimated 215 million people (88% of US adults) viewed what was dubbed the “Great American Eclipse,” with its path of totality visible in cities in 14 different states, including Illinois. Prior to the 2017 occurrence, the last time the contiguous United States saw a total solar eclipse was in 1979.

This year, NASA predicts that the total solar eclipse could be even more thrilling, due to a wider and more populated path of totality. In 2017, the path of totality was about 62 to 71 miles wide. In April, the path of totality will be an estimated 108 to 122 miles wide, meaning that, at any given time, this year’s eclipse covers more ground. Additionally, the 2024 total solar eclipse will pass over more cities and densely populated areas, making it easier for more people to see.

eclipse
The partial eclipse in Lansing in 2017. (Photo: Matthew Splant)

Lansing residents can expect to witness up to 95% coverage of the sun on April 8. Using an interactive map created by NASA, locals can see estimated prime time viewings of the total solar eclipse. The moon’s path will start to cross the sun around 12:51 p.m. local time, and around 2:07 p.m., approximately 95% of the sun will be covered in Lansing. The local view of the total solar eclipse will end at about 3:21 p.m.

eclipse
NASA’s interactive tool shows where the full eclipse will be visible on April 8, 2024. Click to view on science.nasa.gov.

Viewing the eclipse safely

So, how can Lansing residents safely view the total solar eclipse? NASA has reminded the public that it is not safe to look directly at the sun without specialized eye protection. It is also important to remember not to view any part of the bright sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without special solar filters, as this could lead to eye injuries.

eclipse
Doris Magnabosco viewed the 2017 eclipse in Lansing through protective glasses. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The Lansing Public Library has the necessary supplies to safely view this year’s total solar eclipse. Beth Bozzo, Head of Youth and Teen Services at the library, said that despite the challenges of being short staffed, she was still able to access a significant amount of eclipse glasses through a grant.

“When we look back at 2017, when the library gave out eclipse glasses, I know there was a line down the block. So, we wanted to ensure that we had enough to be able to meet the demand that’s coming [this year],” Bozzo said.

Beginning on April 1, Youth and Teen Services will be handing out free pairs of eclipse glasses to all who are interested. One pair per person will be allowed, but individuals do not need to be library cardholders to receive glasses.

STEAM programming at the Lansing Library

Lansing residents Ryan Avenatti and Isabel Duran traveled to Champaign, Illinois in 2017 to view the eclipse. (Photo provided)

While the library will not be hosting any official eclipse viewing events, Bozzo said the library is an excellent information center and resource for the Lansing community, especially those interested in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics — otherwise referred to as “STEAM” programming.

“We do try to be very intentional in offering STEAM-related programs. We recognize that catching kids’ interests when they’re young helps them to develop a love of [these topics],” Bozzo said. “I think the solar eclipse just builds on that. […] We might not be offering a specific program for this year’s eclipse, but we can ensure that kids and families are able to enjoy the eclipse safely.”

Bozzo said that when she first began planning programming herself, she was specifically drawn to STEAM-related programming as a self-proclaimed nerd. Of course, there are plenty of other programs that patrons can enjoy year-round.

“It is so fun to watch people catch the fun of what we do in Youth and Teen Services,” Bozzo said. “We have families that come in for the first time, and their faces just light up as they walk into our library. […] For me, that’s the fun part. Just watching families catch that excitement and passion for their local library.”

Make the most of the eclipse

Beyond grabbing free glasses from the library, Lansing residents can also check out these free online resources from NASA that will help observers make the most out of their eclipse experience:

The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue, and is open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call 708-474-2447 for more information or to check the availability of eclipse glasses.

Related

One of The Lansing Journal’s first stories was about the solar eclipse in 2017. View photos from that event below:

Katie Arvia
Katie Arvia
Katie is a lifelong Lansing native who currently works full-time in marketing while also freelance reporting for The Lansing Journal. In 2015, she graduated with high honors from Saint Xavier University in Chicago with a BA in English, and she plans to pursue a Master's degree in the near future. Her favorite Lansing Journal assignments include coverage of TF South High School's walkout ("Demonstrating the possibilities") and her St. Patrick's Day interview with her grandma ("St. Patrick's Day traditions: reflections of an Irish granddaughter").

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here