Eclipse Central: Everything you need to know about Monday's solar eclipse
It's the event nearly a century in the making -- the first total solar eclipse to cut across the entire United States since 1918. And those of us in Washington -- while not lucky enough to be in the center of the eclipse, are pretty close and should still get a pretty amazing show.
Here is what you need to know about the eclipse:
When will the eclipse be?
Of course, of chief concern: When do we watch? Generally speaking the sun begins to be eclipsed at 9:08 a.m., and reaches peak eclipse at around 10:20 a.m. Here is a chart of the eclipse's exact schedule and how much of the sun will be obscured: (Click to enlarge)
Your town not listed? No worries. NASA has an interactive map to get your own timing down. "UT" is "Universal Time" and is 7 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time.
Who are the lucky ones who get to see it?
Everyone in the continental United States will see some part of an eclipse Monday, but in the Northwest, only a narrow band of Oregon and Idaho will be in the path of totality.
Can I just look at the eclipse?
NO! Staring at an eclipse without protective equipment can cause severe eye damage. The only time it is safe to look at an eclipse with the naked eye is the two minutes or so it is in full totality. Even if the sun is 99 percent obscured, protective eye wear is needed. Note: There is no place in Washington where the eclipse will be fully 100 percent, so protective eye wear is needed across the entire state for the entire event. It is also unsafe to view the eclipse directly through an unfiltered camera, telescope or binoculars. You've probably seen a bazillion links about the eclipse but the eye safety one is a must read!
How can I safely view the eclipse?
You must use special "eclipse glasses" that are ISO 12312-2 compliant with international safety standard for such products. These glasses have strong filters which will protect your eyes. Beware of knock-offs! If glasses are damaged or scratched, don't use them -- they may not provide full protection.
NASA provides this list of reputable vendors for solar filters and viewers, just be aware of extremely high demand and they note most vendors have sold out. If you don't have access to safety glasses, there are other ways to safely view the eclipse including using pinhole projections and other projection methods - like a colander or spaghetti strainer!
Or, sometimes, Mother Nature will provide the filter for you!
Are there any viewing experiences in the Puget Sound region?
There are several spots in the Seattle-Tacoma area that are hosting viewing parties.
- The Pacific Science Center will have telescopes and safe viewing glasses for their guests. Doors open early at 8:30 a.m.
- The Museum of Flight is also having a live stream viewing party -- join Museum educators and NASA scientists outside the main entrance from 9:30 to 10:30 AM (Outside viewing free, no reservations required).
- The Smith Tower is having a viewing party from their observation deck; tickets go on sale at 8:30 a.m. Monday. Specialty “Eclipse” mimosas and coffee available.
- In Lakewood, the Pierce College Science Dome will provide safe viewing locations and a live stream of the event.
- And at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, there will be a viewing party with eclipse glasses, space expert and activities.
- Via Seattle.curbed.com: Phinney Neighborhood Association is having their party at Greenwood Park starting at 9 a.m. They recommend bringing your own eclipse-viewing glasses or other viewing device, but they’ll have pinhole boxes available, too.
- There are also several local libraries hosting events, including in the King County and Seattle Public Library Systems, but due to high demand, many may already be out of eclipse viewing glasses. Seattle Public Libraries says they are all out. Check ahead.
What if I want to photograph the eclipse?
Cameras need special solar filters too and a bit of setup to make sure you'll be able to get the intricate details. MrEclipse.com has these excellent tips if using a more advanced camera such as a DSLR.
Just have a smartphone? NASA has these tips and tricks -- it won't look as great as the DSLR photos, but you could still get a neat memento. (Again -- don't look directly at the sun while taking pictures!)
What's the Weather Look Like for Monday?
So far, so good: Current charts look for sunshine across much of the Northwest, aside from the immediate coast, which may have to await a marine layer burnoff. Get the latest from the KOMO Weather Center for forecasts around Western Washington or this link from the National Weather Service if you're travelling.
If it's cloudy or I can't get outside, where can I watch the eclipse online?
NASA will have several online streams as the eclipse moves across the nation. KOMO-TV will also provide live feeds on KOMOnews.com and on Facebook from both local viewing, and from inside the totality zone in Oregon via feeds from our sister stations.
Will I poison my food if I cook during an eclipse? (And other common misconceptions)
There are several tales running around purporting dangers of solar eclipses, such as it causing harm to pregnant women or poisoning food. They're all false. NASA has this handy guide:
When is the next eclipse?
This is the last eclipse to hit the Pacific Northwest in our lifetimes, but there will be another eclipse that cuts across the U.S. Midwest in 2024. If you don't want to travel too far, there will be another total solar eclipse that will cut across the United States on a slightly more southern track than Monday's, covering parts of Northern California and Nevada on Aug. 12, 2045.