2017 Partial Eclipse Visible from VA!

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Get Ready for one of Nature's Best Shows!

On August 21, 2017 beginning at approximately 1:14pm, the New Moon will pass across the solar disk resulting in a PARTIAL solar eclipse for observers here in Viriginia! While the partial eclipse will last for approximately 3 hours, ending at 4pm, at 2:40pm EDT we will be in for a real treat. At that time, the skies will darken, temperatures will drop as the Moon blocks much of the radiation we receive from the Sun, you may see some stars as well as the planets Venus and Jupiter, crickets will chirp and other nocturnal animals will be confused thinking it's night time! Darkness and cooler temperatures will last for about 2.5 minutes as the Moon continues its eastward motion as seen from us here on Earth! While observers here in Virginia will not see a total eclipse, nearly 86% of the solar disk will be blocked so we are in store for a great show!! Please note that at NO POINT IN TIME should you look at the Sun without solar eclipse glasses -- you will damage your eyes without proper eclipse glasses.

2017 Partial Eclipse Visible from VA

Unfortunately, because this eclipse will be visible to much of the country, there is a lot of bad information circulating online. This also includes solar eclipse glasses being sold online that are NOT SAFE! Make sure that you use only eclipse glasses that meet the specific ISO 12312-2 international standard applicable to eclipse glasses

How can you tell if your solar viewer is not safe? The only thing you can see through a safe solar filter from a reputable vendor is the Sun itself. If you can see ordinary household lights through your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer, it’s no good. Safe solar filters produce a view of the Sun that is comfortably bright (like the full Moon), in focus, and surrounded by black sky. If you glance at the Sun through your solar filter and find it uncomfortably bright, out of focus, and surrounded by a murky haze, it’s no good. You should contact the seller and demand a refund or credit for return of the product, then obtain a replacement from one of the sources listed on the AAS’s reputable-vendors page.

Eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers should meet all the following criteria:

  •     Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
  •     Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
  •     Not be used if they are scratched or wrinkled lenses
  •     Not use homemade filters or be substituted for with ordinary sunglasses -- not even very dark ones -- because they are not safe for looking directly at the Sun

The American Astronomical Society has verified that these five manufacturers are making eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.

  • NEVER, EVER, look at the Sun without protective solar eclipse viewers! You will damage your eyes!

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection. If you are looking for a SIMPLE, FUN, arts & craft project to do with the kids, you can make your own solar eclipse projection viewer using a half-gallon milk or juice carton! This is a quick and fun project that only takes about 30 mins of time and the only supplies you need are a half-gallon carton, some tape, and parchment viewer!! We have done this activity with kids around Harrisonburg, and even at our recent teacher's workshop at the John C. Wells Planetarium, and it has always been a lot of FUN! It's also a GREAT opportunity to learn more about lunar phases and why we have eclipses! 

Understanding Phases of the Moon is one of the biggest misconceptions in all of science!! Don't believe me? Check out this short clip from a depressing science education video entitled "A Private Universe." Did you know that you can tell time simply by the phases of the Moon? This is one of several reasons why the phases of the Moon were so important to our ancestors! Want a cool activity to do with the kids so that they can better understand the phases of the Moon? Check out this activity that we've developed for our JMU classes and also used with middle school students at our summer Space Explorers camps!

To help improve science understanding of basic phenomena of our solar system, the John C. Wells Planetarium has been collaborating with JMU's School of Music professor David Newman to develop science-based songs that are FUN and catchy! Check out two popular videos from the brilliant David Newman that he created for our Space Explorers summer camps! The first song covers basic properties about the planets in our solar system and the second song covers why the phases of the moon are important!


A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime. More information:

Solar Eclipse Times for August 21

  • The eclipse lasts 2h 47m 2.0s
  • Start time: 1:13:58.1 PM
  • Maximum eclipse: 2:40:28.1 PM
  • Eclipse magnitude: 0.887 (86.40% obscured)
  • End time: 4:01:00.1 PM

Not located in the Valley? Or curious to know what the eclipse will look like from a different location? You can find out what kind of partial eclipse you will see and the start, end, and time of maximum eclipse via this cool ECLIPSE COUNTDOWN CLOCK!

What is a solar eclipse?

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