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Eclipse Viewing Tips for Wisconsinites

Astronomers warn that proper eye protection is essential for viewing the solar eclipse. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)
Astronomers warn that proper eye protection is essential for viewing the solar eclipse. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)
August 21, 2017

MADISON, Wis. – If Mother Nature cooperates by providing a sunny afternoon in Wisconsin, a partial eclipse of the sun will be visible over the state.

It's the first time in nearly a century that a total solar eclipse will be visible across the U.S., although the path of total eclipse falls a few hundred miles south of Wisconsin.

Jim Lattis, director of the University of Wisconsin Space Place, cautions people in the strongest terms to not look directly at the sun during the eclipse.

He urges wearing specially made eclipse glasses or even making a pinhole camera to avoid damaging your eyes.

"In Wisconsin we'll see a partial eclipse of the sun that will be at a maximum a little after 1 p.m., like, say, 1:10 to 1:20 in most of the state is when the maximum eclipse will happen," he states.

The path of the total eclipse cuts a swath across the country from Oregon to South Carolina.

More than 12 million Americans live in the area that astronomers call the path of totality, where the sun will be completely blocked out by the moon.

According to Lattis, where you are in Wisconsin will determine how much of the sun will be blocked out as the moon moves between Earth and the sun.

"In the southwest part of the state, about 87 percent of the sun will be covered, and up toward the northeast more like 75 percent,” he says. “It'll vary across the state. The times will vary a little bit, too."

The last time people in the Badger State were in the path where a total eclipse was visible was back in 1954, when the sun was blocked out completely in a very small part of northwestern Wisconsin.

Actually seeing a total eclipse of the sun is extremely rare. Astronomers estimate that 99 percent of people alive today have never witnessed a total eclipse.

"People have had to travel overseas to some remote location in order to find one, so here we have one coming right through the U.S. – first in 99 years – but it won't be that long until the next one,” he relates. “The next total solar eclipse, which again will still be partial in Wisconsin, will happen in 2024."

Astronomers estimate that more than 2 million Americans will have made a trip to be in the path of the total eclipse.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI