A solar eclipse is a rare event. The last time we viewed a total solar eclipse — when the moon passed between the sun and earth causing darkness — from the contiguous United States was 38 years ago, in 1979.
From 9:13 to 10:33 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, Arizonans will see only a partial eclipse (63 percent in Phoenix). The main viewing path across the U.S. stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. However, views from northern Arizona sites, such as Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, are expected to be grand, with up to 81 percent of the sun covered.
Protect your eyes
First, please note that experts are urging caution: Viewing the eclipse should only be done with proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun can lead to permanent eye damage or even blindness.
Special solar-eclipse viewing glasses (regular sunglasses are not adequate; solar-viewing glasses must be ISO 12312-2 compliant) or indirect viewing techniques (such as a pinhole solar viewing projector) must be used to look at the eclipse.
Many local schools are choosing to keep kids inside during the event because of eye-safety concerns.
Luckily, lots of libraries and museums are using this event as a great way to teach kids (and adults) about the sun and our solar system, and many are offering solar viewing glasses for the occasion.
How to celebrate
Here are seven ways to celebrate the eclipse in metro Phoenix and around Arizona:
1. Read up on this rare event from the space experts at NASA and the American Astronomical Society. Find facts and even answers to great trivia questions (for example: popular songs that reference an eclipse) that would be perfect for hosting your own eclipse party!
2. Explore your public library. Most Phoenix public library branches are gearing up for the so-called Great American Eclipse with storytimes, reference books and hands-on eclipse-related activities, including making eclipse viewing boxes. Some are even giving away safe eclipse viewing glasses.
3. Pre-Eclipse Party at Arizona Museum of Natural History. Join Arizona State University scientists for fun activities, crafts and presentations about space and the solar eclipse. Stop by Saturday, Aug. 19, to learn about the latest NASA missions, make a pocket solar system, imagine what extraterrestrial life might be like and take home a pair of eclipse glasses (while supplies last) to watch the solar eclipse safely.
4. Arizona Science Center Solar Eclipse Viewing Party. Experience this rare celestial scene with fun hands-on activities and learn all about the sun. Arizona Science Center Planetarium team member James Enos will be in the Midwest to experience the total eclipse and will be reporting via live Facebook feed. Solar viewing glasses will be given to the first 300 people who arrive on Monday, Aug. 21.
5. Solar Eclipse 2017 Viewing Event at ASU. ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration is hosting an eclipse viewing on Hayden Lawn and in Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV on the Tempe campus. Peer through solar telescopes and get solar-safe viewing glasses at this free Monday event.
6. The Great American Eclipse at Lowell Observatory. If you’re in Flagstaff, drop in for live streaming of the eclipse and astronomer talks from the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience in Madras, Oregon. Enjoy family activities, crafts, solar viewing with solar telescopes and glasses, tours and more on Monday.
7. Solar Eclipse Experience in Buckeye. Stargazing for Everyone is hosting this event at the Buckeye library with solar telescopes and activities for all ages on Monday.