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Photo: 45 Years Ago, Chicagoans Looked to the Sky for Another Solar Eclipse

Meredith Francis
A black and white image of eclipse viewers sitting on the ground and viewing the eclipse through viewing devices at Adler Planetarium in 1979.
Eclipse viewers at Adler Planetarium in 1979. Credit: ST-14001507-0002, Chicago Sun-Times collection, Chicago History Museum

On February 26, 1979, a total eclipse passed over much of the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest, as well as parts of Canada. States such as Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana experienced totality – in which the moon passes over the sun and completely blocks it. In the Chicago History Museum photo above, people view the eclipse from the Adler Planetarium. As in this year, Chicago was not in the path of totality in 1979, though a partial eclipse was still noticeable enough to draw people outdoors on a cold winter day.

For what to expect for the 2024 eclipse, WTTW News put together a helpful guide for viewing the event in downstate Illinois (heads up: beware of traffic jams!) and information about viewing parties in Chicago. Plus, you can stream NOVA’s Great American Eclipse any time via the PBS app or online. Don’t forget your eclipse viewing glasses!