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State public health officials urge eclipse viewing safety

With large crowds expected to converge on Southern Illinois in the days ahead to experience the total solar eclipse on April 8, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is offering suggestions on how to view the eclipse safely.

Homewood and Flossmoor viewers will not see a full eclipse, but it will be close. The sun will be most obscured here at 2:07 p.m.

“A total solar eclipse is a rare and remarkable event,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “Everyone in the eclipse’s path is set for a truly memorable experience and we, in public health, want to ensure it is a safe one as well. Please make sure you, your family, and friends take appropriate precautions this coming Monday to avoid any injury or illness.”

The total eclipse will follow a path similar to the August 2017 total eclipse. This time, people across a wide swath of Southern Illinois will be in total darkness for just over four minutes. It will be the last total eclipse over the United States until 2045.

IDPH and its Office of Preparedness and Response are working to remind the public about potential dangers associated with the eclipse and to ensure they take all appropriate precautions.

Attempting to observe the eclipse directly without protection could cause permanent eye damage. Standard sunglasses do not offer protection, no matter how dark and are not safe for viewing the sun. To view the eclipse directly, people must use special safe eclipse viewers which meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. Check the link to see if your eclipse viewers meet this standard.

Another way to safely view the eclipse is indirectly via pinhole projection. With your back to the sun, you can look at the shadow from the eclipse on the ground through a hole punched in an index card, an object with small holes like a pasta colander, or your fingers crossed over each other.

IDPH encourages everyone to enjoy the unique experience of a total eclipse, but to do so safely and wisely.

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