Get us in your inbox

A total solar eclipse
Photograph: Shutterstock

Your guide to the solar eclipse in Chicago

Find out when and where to watch, and how to get free eclipse glasses.

Jeffy Mai
Written by
Jeffy Mai

Next month will offer the opportunity to watch a rare natural phenomenon that won’t happen again in the contiguous United States until 2044. On Monday, April 8, a total solar eclipse will be visible from parts of North America. The last time the country experienced such an event was in 2017. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a total solar eclipse?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, completely blocking out the latter’s rays. The sky temporarily darkens, the air cools and stars appear for a few minutes in places along the path of the eclipse.

When is the solar eclipse in Chicago?

The Earth, Sun and Moon will line up on April 8. The first area to experience a total eclipse in North America will be Mexico’s Pacific coast at around 1:07pm. The eclipse will make its way northeast through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, before entering Canada. For Chicago, the eclipse will peak around 2:07pm, according to NASA. The next total solar eclipse over U.S. soil isn’t expected until August 2044.

solar eclipse map
Photograph: Courtesy of NASA

Where can I watch the total solar eclipse in Chicago?

Chicago is not in the eclipse’s path of totality, meaning only a partial eclipse will be visible. The good news is that the city will still see 94 percent totality. If you want to view a total eclipse, parts of southern Illinois and central Indiana will be your best options, with Carbondale being the largest Illinois city in the path.

Here in Chicago, the Adler Planetarium is throwing a free event on the day of the eclipse. Attendees can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and pick up a pair of free glasses.

360 CHICAGO, the observation deck on the 94th floor of 875 N. Michigan Avenue (formerly the John Hancock Center), will offer unobstructed, panoramic views of the eclipse. Included in the price of a general admission ticket, guests will receive a complimentary pair of solar viewers and have the opportunity to watch the spectacle from over 1,000 feet above street level.

City Cruises Chicago will embark on a 30-minute solar eclipse cruise from Navy Pier at 2pm. Passengers will go on a ride around Lake Michigan and have unparalleled views of the celestial event. Eclipse glasses will be provided. 

How can I safely watch the solar eclipse?

Although most of the Sun’s light will be blocked out during the eclipse, it is not safe to look at with the naked eye. You’ll have to wear special eclipse glasses equipped with a solar filter, or watch through a pinhole projector. Viewing through sunglasses, telescopes, binoculars and camera lenses can cause serious eye injury.

Where can I get free solar eclipse glasses in Chicago?

Warby Parker will be giving away free solar eclipse glasses until supplies last at all stores. The eyewear retailer has stores in Andersonville, Lincoln Park, West Loop, Gold Coast, Wicker Park and Lakeview, plus suburban locations in Naperville, Oak Brook, Schaumburg and Skokie.

The Adler Planetarium will host a free outdoor Eclipse Encounter ’24 event on April 8. Attendees will receive a free pair of solar viewers (while supplies last).

MyEyeDr., an eye health services provider, is giving out free solar eclipse glasses at all of its locations. You can find your nearest office here.

Select Chicago Public Libraries across the city will hold eclipse viewings on April 8 and hand out free solar glasses, courtesy of the Adler Planetarium. Find a participating library here.

Ice cream company Jeni’s has rolled out three new flavors—Nebula Berry, Cosmic Bloom, Purple Star Born—in celebration of the eclipse. Starting April 5, customers can also pick up a pair of complimentary eclipse glasses with purchase at any local Jeni’s scoop shop.

For those who are looking to buy their own pair of glasses, the American Astronomical Society has put out a list of recommended suppliers

You may also like
You may also like