Take note, America: There’s a major solar eclipse headed our way on Monday, August 21. It will be one of three that will be viewable from the U.S. this century – with totality (when the disc of the moon completely covers the sun, bringing a few minutes of darkness to the sky) taking place in midwestern cities throughout the summer afternoon. In Chicago, we’ll be able to see the eclipse at about 90 percent of totality – which means the sun will still be viewable, but the sky will darken slightly.

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is getting ready with a new exhibit called “Chasing Eclipses,” available now through the end of the year. It’s a small exhibit, but it tells something about the history of eclipse-chasing and offers some information on the upcoming eclipse as well as the two that come after it this century.

Here, you can view early instruments used to calculate and show the paths of eclipses, find out more about what they are and who has spent time chasing them, and even make your own device for viewing the eclipse (since staring at the sun is always a bad idea).

If you’re not one of the many eclipse chasers making their way to totality sites around the country, you can view the eclipse right on Museum Campus with about 10,000 expected other people on 8/21. The Adler will distribute free solar viewing glasses, offer eclipse-related activities, and make experts available to discuss the eclipse.

The Adler will also be at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., the closest site that’s in the path of totality, to provide eclipse-day programming on 8/21. Thinking of going? Note that SIU staff expects up to 50,000 visitors from Illinois and beyond for viewing totality in the early afternoon.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event! The eclipse comes on a summer day during a month that sees relatively small amounts of rain – and most schools are not yet back in session. It could be a pretty spectacular day, and the Adler is definitely getting people stoked about it! If you’re interested in finding out more about the eclipse, check it out. Visit www.adlerplanetarium.org for more information.

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