Update: The Adler Planetarium will be giving out 30,000 safe solar viewing glasses at the Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, starting at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21. At Chicago's Daley Plaza, Adler will begin distributing 10,000 safe solar viewing glasses starting at 11:30 a.m. Monday. Both locations will have a limit of one pair of glasses per person, while supplies last.
The celebration of the summer will honor a rare celestial event.
On Monday, Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible in parts of the United States for the first time since 1979.
In celebration, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago is throwing a giant block party, inviting guests to experience the event together and offering free general admission.
Chicago Eclipse Fest will run from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday on the Planetarium grounds and in the adjacent parking lot. Guests can enjoy live entertainment, hands-on science for all ages, local programming and food trucks. Everyone will receive free solar viewing glasses.
At 11:54 a.m. in Chicago, the moon will start to block the view of the sun, covering up to 87 percent of it by 1:19 p.m., before it starts to regress, says Annie Vedder, the Planetarium's curator of experience. The eclipse will be over by 2:22 p.m.
Because the sun is still so bright, it won't appear different to the naked eye, she says. The best and safest way to observe the partial solar eclipse is by wearing a pair of solar eclipse glasses.
"Wearing glasses, you'll really be able to take in an amazing sight in the city," she says. "You'll observe the moon appearing to eat away at the sun."
You can also make your own pinhole projector, or use something like a Ritz cracker, lining up a tiny hole with the sun to view, she says. Directions for how to make homemade projectors can be found at the Planetarium's website, adlerplanetarium.org.
In other parts of the country, people in the path of totality -- when the moon will block the sun completely, extending from Oregon to southern Illinois to South Carolina -- will be able to see totally darkened skies in the middle of the day. The last time Chicago was this close to the path of totality was 92 years ago, Vedder says.
"It's been since 1925 since a total solar eclipse has come this close to Chicago. And the rarity is mind-boggling, that we'll have the ability to chase this down," she says.
For those heading to the Planetarium Monday, plan time to explore the new exhibit "Chasing Eclipses." Plus, don't miss the live feed of the total solar eclipse from locations in the path of totality that will be shown in the immersive Grainger Sky and Definiti Space theaters starting at 11:45 a.m. Throughout the day, regular sky shows will be shown for $5, with a special eclipse show for $2.
Other activities will include a live mad science show, Ask-an-Astronomer sessions, eclipse trivia at the main stage at 12:30, 2:45 and 4:30 p.m., design challenges including solar car races and making pinhole projectors, solar science demonstrations, and bubbles, sensory, light and shadow activities for younger kids. Throughout the day there will be entertainment by Jim & the Povolos, DJ Lani Love and DJ Chess Hubbard. Carnival fun includes a bounce house, giant Jenga, a gladiator obstacle course, a bean bag toss and a giant parachute.
On-site programming partners include Mad Science, Chicago Park District, Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Children's Museum and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, among others.
For those who will be downtown at the time of the eclipse, the Planetarium is setting up a viewing area at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.
"The part I find really exciting is the accessibility of viewing the solar eclipse for most people in this country," Vedder says.
The next solar eclipse comes in 2024.
"Hopefully, everyone is bitten by the bug to chase down totality," she says. "We'll be lucky in seven years to see 90 percent of totality."
But it won't be until 2099 that full totality will be visible for residents on the north side of Chicago, who will experience total darkness in the middle of the day, she says. "It's the only time it's safe to look at the sun, when the moon totally blocks it out," she says. "It's a very dramatic few minutes."
Along with the darkness, the temperatures drop and animal behaviors change.
"You may be able to see stars," Vedder says. "If you didn't know what was happening, and all of a sudden this hit, you'd be pretty confused. I do think about our ancestors who may not have had the same knowledge we do now and what this experience may have meant to them."
Other local eclipse events
Daley Plaza: Loop viewers can visit with Alder Planetarium staff, who will be on-site to hand out free solar glasses and answer questions at 50 W. Washington St.
Chicago Botanic Garden: The solar eclipse viewing event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe. Glasses and family activities included. Free admission; parking is $25 per car. See chicagobotanic.org.
Chicago Children's Museum: Gather in the Great Hall from 11 a.m to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, for interactive demonstrations, a live stream from NASA, and a safe look at the eclipse with special glasses. For ages 4 and older. The museum is at Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Admission is $13-$14. (312) 527-1000 or chicagochildrensmuseum.org/.
Harper College: Join the viewing event from noon to 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, in front of the Avanté Center (Building Z), on the College's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine. Three telescopes equipped with solar filters will be set up, and a limited quantity of solar viewers will be available. There will be stations to make pinhole cameras, UV light bracelets and learn why you shouldn't look directly at the sun. Picnics welcome. goforward.harpercollege.edu/.
Kohl Children's Museum: During the free Solar Eclipse Exploration event from noon to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview, museum guests will be given NASA-approved safety glasses and pinhole projectors to view the eclipse. Guests can learn about the solar eclipse through demonstrations of how eclipses occur in the museum's outdoor Habitat Park exhibit. (847) 832-6600 or kohlchildrensmuseum.org/.
Morton Arboretum: Take part in drop-in activities from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at the Visitor Center, 4100 Route 53, Lisle. Learn about how and why an eclipse happens, and view the event with eclipse glasses. See mortonarb.org.
Naper Settlement: The solar eclipse viewing picnic runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Bring a lunch and eclipse viewing glasses and listen to celestial legends on the main green. Complimentary viewing glasses available. $5 admission; free for Naperville residents and Settlement members. napersettlement.org/.
Pheasant Run Resort: From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., join the Poolside Solar Eclipse Experience, which includes a free poolside lunch (grilled hot dogs, potato chips and baked beans), complementary viewing glasses for the first 50 guests, and special themed cocktails (Total Solar Eclipse -- dark rum and orange Soda with an orange slice garnish for $9) and mocktails (Mocktail Eclipse Soda -- orange soda and vanilla ice cream for $5) at the Splash Bar and Clubhouse Lounge. Attendees will have access to on-site box cameras, NASA Edge coverage shown on a big screen, and raffle prizes and giveaways. The resort is at 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. (800) 474-3272 or pheasantrun.com/.
• Odyssey's Solar Eclipse Lunch Cruise includes a three-course lunch buffet. Guests board at 11:45 a.m.; the cruise runs from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. $54.90 for adults; $32.95 for kids 3-12; free for kids 2 and younger. odysseycruises.com/chicago/cruises/specialty/solar-eclipse.
• Seadog's solar eclipse viewing and speedboat ride begins with boarding at 12:45 p.m., with the cruise sailing from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Includes solar viewing glasses provided by the Adler Planetarium. $36.95 for adults; $21.95 for kids 3-12; free for kids 2 and younger. seadogcruises.com/chicago/cruises/specialty/solar-eclipse.
• Mystic Blue is offering a solar eclipse viewing boathouse cruise on Lake Michigan with onboard entertainment, a DJ, a dance floor and games. Boarding begins at 11:30 a.m.; the cruise sails from noon to 2 p.m. Includes solar viewing glasses courtesy of Blue Moon. $32.90 for adults; $19.95 for kids 3-12; free for kids 2 and younger. mysticbluecruises.com/chicago/cruises/specialty/solar-eclipse-boathouse-cruise.