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Be sure to use approved solar viewers to see the eclipse.

Featured Article

Investing in Experiences: Totality Awesome Eclipse Coming Up

Preparing for the Total Solar Eclipse with Help from the Lake County Astronomical Society.

Article by Christina Sikorski

Photography by Stephen Neilson, Christina Sikorski, Dave Wagner

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

Mark your calendars: Monday, April 8 is the next total solar eclipse. (Note: it's the last one viewable in the US until 2044.) As defined by the National and Aeronautic Space Agency (NASA), a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, thus completely blocking the sun and darkening the skies as though it were nightfall or daybreak.  

Here in Lake County, a group of amateur astronomers is promoting astronomy in our community. Tony Yelk currently serves as Vice President of the Lake County Astronomical Society (LCAS). Founded in 1982, LCAS provides outreach to residents through “star parties” and programs like “Astronomy Under the City Lights.”

Yelk says, “My work with the Lake County Astronomical Society came about as a merger of an interest in astronomy and a desire to get involved in community outreach back in 2012. It was more than just a club of enthusiasts meeting every month. These were individuals that were passionate about sharing the wonders of the night sky with the public. It was a perfect match, and I have enjoyed working with the organization ever since.”

LCAS partners with local libraries, such as the Ela Area Public Library, to introduce patrons to the night sky and answer questions in a comfortable and familiar environment. LCAS also helps make telescopes available to patrons to use at home as part of the LoanStar circulation program. Check your local library for availability. Ela cardholders may check out an Orion telescope for home use for a loan period of three weeks.

Yelk elaborates, “These telescopes are a great way to introduce kids to the night sky and astronomy. Watching the planets in the night sky is also something families can do together and does not require any equipment. Is that a star or a planet? Watching the planets move through the sky is a great way to learn about their orbits. What you see at night changes over the course of the year.”

Ready to learn more? LCAS meets the third Friday of every month at the Volo Bog Visitor Center in Ingleside. Meetings are free, open to the public, and feature a guest speaker discussing astronomy-related topics.

LCAS’ largest outreach program is coming up on Saturday, May 18, when they hold Astronomy Day at the Ela Area Public Library. This family-centric event runs all day and includes presentations, informative displays, and kid's activities, like the ever-popular comet experience with dry ice.

 Finally, as you prepare for the solar eclipse on April 8, stresses safety first. To observe and enjoy the solar eclipse, the first step is protective eyewear. Whether during the eclipse or not, never look directly at the sun. Purchase specialized solar viewers or visit NASA’s website to learn how to make a pinhole projector at home.

Get pumped up for the next solar eclipse. It will be totality awesome!

To learn about future LCAS events, visit prepare for the total solar eclipse, visit

  • LCAS teaching telescope skills viewing the moon from Lake Zurich.
  • Most recent full solar eclipse in Illinois: August 21, 2017, photographed by Stephen Neilson.
  • Be sure to use approved solar viewers to see the eclipse.
  • LCAS hosting Astronomy Day at the Ela Area Public Library.
  • Star Trails and Astronomy Trails: 5 hour exposure by Dave Wagner, LCAS.