For the first time since 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible from our backyards. You may have heard the April 8 eclipse is a full visibility eclipse—or total solar eclipse—but unless you’re traveling to one of the towns in the path of totality (some of the closest include Sheridan, Noblesville, or Dansville, Indiana), you’re going to have a partial viewing experience.

We may not be able to see some of the fun features like shadow bands or Bailey’s Beads, but the time of day makes viewing easy for participants. “It’s midday on a Monday, and as long as people have the glasses, they can view it wherever they are,” says UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium Director Jean Creighton.

The solar eclipse will reach 90% totality in Milwaukee, meaning about 90% of the sun will be blocked during the time of the eclipse. Peak visibility will happen around 2 p.m. And while Milwaukee viewers won’t experience the whole eclipse, Creighton believes it will be just as awe-inspiring. “You look up and see a big chunk of the sun missing,” she says. “You get this feeling that wow, something big is happening here.”

Ensure Safe Viewing

“People have it in the back of their mind, ‘I’ve seen sunsets and sunrises, I’ve looked at the sun,'” Creighton says. “The thing is when the sun is not eclipsing, your eyes have built-in protection because it’s so bright. Your eyes will close or tear up to protect themselves.”

During an eclipse, due to the darkness while the moon passes the sun, your eyes may not have those same reactions. “By the time you realize something is wrong you’ve already burnt your retinas,” Creighton says.

Luckily, viewing an eclipse safely is very straightforward. Purchasing an American Astronomical Society (AAS) certified ISO 12312-2 pair of glasses will make viewing safe—but make sure the glasses have that certification, as there are plenty of counterfeits around. You can also view the eclipse safely through a viewer box. Turning your back and looking at the eclipse through a projection or something like a colander, where each hole serves as a pinhole camera, will also be safe for your eyes.

Viewing Parties

UW-Milwaukee Manfred Olson Planetarium
1900 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Dr. Creighton and crew will be hosting a free, open-to-the-public viewing party that will take place at Spaights Plaza or in the UWM Ballroom if the weather doesn’t permit. “We will be handing out glasses, there will be fun activities and free pizza,” Creighton says. “If the weather is clear, there will also be telescopes with solar filters for viewing. Inside, we will stream a live feed from a location with eclipse totality.”

American Science & Surplus
6901 W. Oklahoma Ave.

The folks at American Science & Surplus and WMSE 91.7 FM are hosting a viewing party in the ASS parking lot. There will be hands-on activities for the whole family, and a food truck for snacking. DJ Faux Eyes from WMSE will be on location, broadcasting live from 12:30-3 p.m. Eclipse glasses will be available for purchase at the store. Event organizers suggest bringing your own chair.

Milwaukee Community Sailing Center
1450 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.

The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center is hosting a viewing party for a good cause! Before and during the viewing party, the Red Cross will be on site to collect for the Sailing Center’s blood drive. The center is opening its property to the public to view the eclipse along the lake. The event page makes no mention of providing glasses, so make sure to bring your own, alongside a chair and snacks, for safe and comfortable viewing.

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
1111 E. Brown Deer Rd.

The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center will be hosting a viewing party on their veranda, with some special features for guests. They will have a telescope with a solar filter available for viewing, as well as a projector to view the eclipse on a large poster board. You have to pay for admission or be a member of the Nature Center to participate in this event.

Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium
S14 W28167 Madison St.

If you’re in the Waukesha area, head to the Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium for its solar eclipse shindig that opens at 9 a.m. Ahead of the eclipse, there will be a showing of the film Lights Out! Eclipses: Whys, Wonders & Wows. There will also be activities around the planetarium for the whole family. If weather doesn’t cooperate, they will live stream the event on the dome of their lobby.

Wehr Nature Center
9701 W. College Ave.

Staff members of the Wehr Nature Center will be onsite during their eclipse viewing party to help participants learn how to safely view the eclipse. They will have filtered telescopes for viewing and glasses for sale to protect your eyes. There will be a $5 parking fee for folks who aren’t nature center members.

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About The Author

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Carmella is a local copywriter. When she's not typing behind the computer, you can catch her at a local show or thrift store.