On August 21, 2017, the United States will experience a coast-to-coast solar eclipse, where the Sun is completely blocked out by the Earth’s moon. While southern Utah is not be in the path of totality, you can still see about 77% solar eclipse coverage from Zion Ponderosa and Zion National Park.
What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, blocking all or part of the sun for several hours. The last major solar eclipse in the U.S. was in 1979, and the last coast-to-coast eclipse was nearly a century ago, in 1918.
In Utah, the moon will start to cover the sun shortly around 10:14 a.m. and will end around 1 p.m. Maximum partial eclipse is expected to happen at 11:33 a.m. and will last for about two minutes and forty seconds.
How to safely observe a solar eclipse
Sunlight during an eclipse isn’t any more dangerous than it is at any other time – you’ll just be more tempted to look at the sun. Staring directly at the sun during a solar eclipse, however, can cause severe eye damage. Safe viewing is essential, and we can’t stress enough that you should NOT look directly at the sun without appropriate eye protection. Eclipse glasses must be marked ISO 12312-2.
Credit: Mark Margolis / Rainbow Symphony,courtesy eclipse.aas.org
Zion Ponderosa and Zion National Park offer amazing settings for watching this rare celestial event. The path of totality is expected to be extremely crowded—it’s estimated that Snake River Valley, Idaho and Casper, Wyoming will see up to 300,000 visitors—so while those of us in southern Utah may not see the full event, we will at least avoid the masses.
Where will you be for this historic solar event?
Featured photo credit: Dennis di Cicco / Sky & Telescope, courtesy eclipse.aas.org