Your Guide to Viewing the Total Solar Eclipse

July 24th, 2017

Your Guide to Viewing the Total Solar Eclipse

In May, Second Act members were treated to a special session highlighting the solar eclipse taking place Monday, August 21, 2017. The class featured Dr. Scott Ishman, Co-Chair of the Southern Illinois University Eclipse Steering Committee and Associate Dean of the College of Science. Members learned facts about eclipses including things to do and not to do during a solar eclipse. They also found out why southern Illinois is called the Eclipse Crossroads of America.

To watch the complete video of Dr. Ishman’s 2017 Solar Eclipse presentation, click here (note: You may need to login to Facebook)

Total Solar Eclipse vs. a Partial Eclipse?

A Total Solar Eclipse takes place when the moon crosses the path between the sun and the Earth. During this brief time, the moon completely covers the sun and causes it to become dark as night. Before and after the totality of the eclipse, is the partial eclipse phase. The partial eclipse phase is when the moon is only covering part of the sun. Many parts of the United States have the chance to see the total and partial phases, but Carbondale happens to be the location of the longest viewing of the total eclipse; 2 minutes 38 seconds to be exact.

An Epic Event in Southern Illinois

Viewing a total solar eclipse is often a once in a lifetime event. It’s a huge attraction for people all over the country and world. Many will travel long distances to southern Illinois to not only see the eclipse but also research it. It’s especially historic for our region. Why? Because Carbondale happens to be the point of longest duration in 2017, and will also be the location for a secondary total eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024. This rare circumstance of two total eclipses within seven years gives researchers the chance to study this event from the same location. It’s so significant, a special team from NASA will be set up at SIU.

How to View a Total Solar Eclipse

During the partial eclipse phases, this is when it can cause the most damage to your eyes and could lead to permanent blindness. Always be sure to wear the proper eclipse glasses or look through the solar film when looking at the partially eclipsed sun. When the moon completely covers the sun, this is the moment it’s safe to remove your eclipse glasses. During this time it will suddenly become dark. Wearing your eclipse glasses filters light. During totality, if you leave them on, you will not see the sun’s glow behind the moon. When the total eclipse phase is complete the sun’s bright rays will begin to reappear and transition back into the partial phase. BE SURE TO PUT YOUR SOLAR GLASSES BACK ON DURING THIS TIME.



  • Wear glasses specifically made for eclipses.
  • Be sure to always watch young children for their safety.
  • Use correct solar film on camera lenses, binoculars or telescopes.
  • Be sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Enjoy this unique experience safely!
  • Look directly into the sun without the proper eclipse glasses or solar film.
  • Use sunglasses or homemade filters. They do not have the proper filters needed to block out the sun’s powerful rays.
  • Remove your eclipse glasses while looking directly at the sun.
  • Always be sure to turn away from the sun when removing your eclipse glasses.
  • Look at the partially eclipsed or the uneclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or similar viewing devices.
  • Use scratched or damaged eclipse glasses or solar film.

Acquiring Solar Eclipse Glasses

For information on where to get the proper eclipse glasses and answers to other eclipse questions or safety information please visit the Carbondale Eclipse website at Various locations in the region may have a limited supply of solar glasses for sale.

Alternatives to the Special Eclipse Glasses

Although it is recommended anyone planning to view the partial eclipse wear eclipse glasses, there are a few alternatives. Baader Film or Solar Film is available for purchase on the internet and is recommended for people that do not want to wear the eclipse glasses or the glasses do not fit properly. It is also great for covering the lens of binoculars or telescopes and needed for anyone that plans to take pictures with a camera or cell phone. Another alternative may be to look at the shadow on the ground of the partial eclipse. NEVER look directly at a partially eclipsed or uneclipsed sun without proper viewing glasses or filters.

Is Carbondale or SIU the Best Place to View the Total Solar Eclipse?

While there will be activities in Carbondale and SIU, you do not have to be there to view the total solar eclipse. Most places in southern Illinois south of Benton, Illinois will all be in range to view the total eclipse. Carbondale is just in the path to have the longest viewing time available of the eclipse. If you are unable to attend the eclipse but would still like to participate in the festivities, events will be held the weekend leading up to the eclipse in Carbondale and at SIU. For more information about these events please visit the Carbondale Eclipse website at or