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Gray Skies Clear up for Partial Solar Eclipse

Nearly 200 gather atop garage to view the moon crossing the sun

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Patience paid off for those who gathered yesterday (Oct. 23) atop Northwestern University’s Visitors Center Parking Garage to view a partial solar eclipse.

A dull, gray overcast hung over Evanston’s lakefront just before 4:36 p.m., the appointed time for the moon to start crossing in front of the sun.

“The clouds finally parted just after 5:30 p.m., giving everyone a great view of the eclipse,” said Michael Smutko, an associate professor of instruction in physics and astronomy at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “It left everyone eager for the next solar eclipse in 2017.”

People of all ages from both the Northwestern and Evanston communities gathered for the event, hosted by Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA). They learned about the astronomy behind the eclipse and, most importantly, how to safely view it.

Sunglasses, even multiple pairs, are not safe for eclipse viewing because they often transmit wavelengths of light that are invisible to the human eye but which can cause eye damage. Welder’s glass (#12 or #14) or other filters specially designed for solar viewing are required to look at the sun directly. A pinhole camera is an excellent option for people who can’t attend a viewing event or don’t have access to solar filters.

The Aug. 21, 2017, solar eclipse will be total and will be visible from parts of the continental United States. Evanston won’t see a total eclipse, but downstate Illinois will.

- Megan Fellman contributed to this report

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