Free Talk to Preview August Eclipse

Picture of a solar eclipse with text about the event overlay.

Western Illinois University Associate Professor of Physics Esteban Araya will deliver a lecture previewing the Aug. 21 eclipse at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 27 in Currens Hall, room 205. The eclipse will coincide with the first day of classes at WIU.

The fundamental aspects of eclipses will be discussed, including animations of how the eclipse will appear from Macomb. Observing tips will also be presented.

Araya will be joined by Dr. Brigette Colley, an optometrist with Macomb's Professional Eyecare Center, who will talk about eye safety during the eclipse, and WIU Librarian Linda Zellmer who will show some of the many information resources available to learn more about the eclipse. Following the talk, if the weather is favorable, attendees can observe some astronomical objects using WIU Physics Department telescopes. The presentation is open free to the public.

"A total solar eclipse is one of the most beautiful and memorable events in nature," said Araya. "Even though the eclipse will not be total, as seen from Macomb, most of the solar surface will be covered by the moon and it will be very interesting to observe the partial phase. The presentations about the eclipse we will have July 27 are intended for general public, and if we are lucky with the weather, we will be able to observe the moon, some planets and other astronomical objects after the talks using the WIU Physics Department's telescopes."

Colley said it is important for those viewing the eclipse to do so safely and to never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection.

"Regular glasses and sunglasses do not provide the same protection as eclipse-approved eyewear," said Colley. "Looking at the sun without proper eye protection can cause a condition called solar retinopathy. The rays from the sun burn the retina, the tissue in the back of the eye, and can cause painless, but permanent vision loss. If you notice blurry or distorted vision after viewing the eclipse, you should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately for evaluation and treatment."

Zellmer said eclipse glasses, for safe viewing of the event, are available for $1.50 per pair on the fourth floor of WIU's Malpass Library. Glasses will also be sold during the July 27 event by the WIU chapter of Women in Science.

Zellmer said this eclipse, which NASA is calling the "Eclipse Across America," will trace a path across the entire country from west of Salem, OR, to just north of Charleston, SC.

"It has been nearly 100 years since the last time a solar eclipse crossed the U.S. from ocean to ocean," Zellmer added. "There are a number of interesting information resources about the eclipse online that people can use to learn about, prepare and plan for the eclipse, including many excellent educational resources that might be useful to teachers."

For additional information about the eclipse, visit Information on eclipse safety is available from the American Optometric Association at

For more information about the WIU eclipse events, contact Zellmer at (309) 298-2723 or via email at

Map of the United States with a highlight of the path of the eclipse.