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The Aug. 21 solar eclipse coincides with the first day of fall classes at WIU.
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Aug. 21 Eclipse Celebration & Safe Viewing Tips

August 16, 2017

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MACOMB, IL – When the solar eclipse passes across the United States Monday, Aug. 21, students at Western Illinois University will be attending the first day of classes for the Fall 2017 semester. Locally, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth at 11:48 a.m. The sun will be 95.2 percent obscured at its maximum point, at 1:15 p.m., when the skies will be darkest. The eclipse is expected to end in Macomb by 2:40 p.m.

While a solar eclipse is a unique and interesting event, University officials are stressing the importance of observing eye safety when trying to catch a glimpse. Macomb ophthalmologist Dr. Jill Brody, who recently endowed the WIU Pre-Med Symposium, said avoiding eye damage is primary during the upcoming event.

"The only safe way to not get eye damage is to not look directly at the sun," said Brody. "It's a once in a lifetime thing, but this is your lifetime; you don't want to damage your vision."

Brody said even though the sun will not be 100 percent obscured, the tiny percentage that will be visible can still cause eye damage.

"Sunglasses or a welder's shield don't provide enough protection," said Brody.

For those purchasing special eclipse glasses, Brody said the viewers must be certified with the number ISO 12312-2 printed on the glasses. Eye damage caused by looking directly at the sun is irreversible.

For directions on making an eclipse viewer, visit

Western's efforts to prepare for the eclipse began several months ago and have included lectures and seminars about the approaching event. Associate Professor Linda Zellmer has coordinated the eclipse resources on behalf of WIU's Leslie F. Malpass Library.

Zellmer has prepared a guide to viewing the eclipse, which can be found at and includes a variety of eclipse-related resources.

On campus, the WIU College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) will hold a celebration from 12:30-2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 between Browne and Memorial halls. Eclipse themed music and snacks will be available, and the first 100 attendees will receive free viewing glasses.

If the weather is clear on the day of the eclipse, Assistant Professor of Physics Brian Davies will have two telescopes, fitted with filters, in the area between the University Union and the Malpass Library, beginning at 12:30 p.m.

WIU Associate Professor of Physics Esteban Araya has been speaking about the eclipse around the region, including one presentation planned for Saturday, Aug. 19 at 1 p.m. at the Colchester Public Library.

A limited supply of eclipse glasses are still available for $1.50 per pair at the WIU Department of Chemistry's office in Currens Hall, 214. Proceeds from the sales benefit WIU's Women in Science program.

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

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing