View the annular eclipse with us

Seth Jarvis

As we have previously noted, we’re in for rare astronomical treat on the afternoon of Sunday, May 20th

Beginning at about 6:20PM (Mountain Daylight Time) the Moon will pass in front of the Sun.  The eclipse will reach maximum about an hour later, and ends just before sunset, at around 8:40 PM).

The centerline of the eclipse path as it passes through the western United States extends from Crescent City, California (just below the border with Oregon) through Albuquerque, New Mexico. Observers along this line will see the Moon pass directly in front of the Sun, with only a thin bright ring of sunlight, sort of a celestial hula-hoop, surrounding the Moon.  This is called an “annular” eclipse.  “Annular” refers to the thin ring (the “annulus”) of sunlight around the Moon, and is not to be confused with “annual” which refers to something that happens every year.

To give you an idea of how rare these are, there hasn’t been an annular eclipse visible from the US since 1994. The next annular eclipse visible from the western US won’t be until 2023. Even from Salt Lake City, the eclipse will be quite a sight!

Observing this annular eclipse on May 20th will also be good practice for observing the Transit of Venus on June 5th, and for the August 21, 2017 total eclipse of the Sun that will slash across the US from coast-to-coast.

So are you excited yet?

Of course you are.

Down south, viewers will see the Moon block out all of the Sun except for a thin ring of light.

Here in northern Utah, we’ll get to see almost 90% of the Sun covered by the Moon. Not a complete eclipse, but impressive nonetheless.

So now the question is, how do I observe the May 20th eclipse?  Well, the obvious answer is, “Go outside and look.”  We’ve posted lots of info on how to safely observe the eclipse (link), but what if you want to hang out with some knowledgeable people who have the right equipment and just mingle with other eclipse-watchers?

We’ve got you covered.

On Sunday, May 20th, beginning at 6PM, Clark Planetarium and members of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society will have solar telescopes and staff at the following locations:

Downtown Salt Lake City at The Gateway (near the fountain west of the Union Pacific Depot Building) – located at approximately 450 West & South Temple.

Downtown Salt Lake City at Library Square – located at approximately 200 East and 500 South.

Downtown University of Utah South Physics Observatory - located at 125 South and 1400 East.

Murray, in front of the Sam’s Club at 6525 S. State Street, at the North end of the parking lot.

Sandy at the Dimple Dell Recreation Center – located at 10600 South and 1000 East.

Also, my friends at Weber State University (Ogden, Utah) will be opening up their observatory and will have a solar telescope and staff available.

And the folks down in Cedar City have a whole weekend’s worth of information to share with the eclipse, since they’re smack-dab in the sweet spot for viewing.

We’ll have additional information about viewing methods and locations as we get closer to May 20th, so keep reading the planetarium’s blog!

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18 thoughts on “View the annular eclipse with us

  1. Are the glasses need for safe watching of the eclipse available for purchase? If so please send me the details

  2. Are the glasses need for safe watching of the eclipse available for purchase? If so please send me the details


  3. Mary,

    Yes, we sell the eclipse glasses here. They’re $1.95 per set. We also have sun filters for a variety of binoculars and telescopes. If you’re local, swing by and pick them up. If you’re distant, you can phone-order them from our “Planet Fun” science store. The store’s phone number is 385-468-1264.

  4. If you know a welder, number 14 welding glass and higher may be used to view this eclipse.

  5. Yes, good point. You can use #14 welder’s glasses.

    Two things to keep in mind:

    It must be #14, not a combination of lower grade filters that sum to 14. Combining a #8 with a #6 is NOT the same level of eye protection.

    Also, a #14 screen works fine for viewing the Sun directly, but you cannot use them as a filter for telescopes or binoculars – the internal reflections within the #14 welders filters make a mess of the image.

  6. If I buy a pair of 5 Shade welding glasses, and a shade #14 filter, will it be okay to layer them? Also, the only shade 14 filters I could find were green tinted, will they be safe to view the eclipse?

  7. Meghan,

    As long as you have #14 welding filter in front of your eyes, that should be fine. It shouldn’t be necessary to combine the #14 with a #5.

    I think all #14 filters tint the Sun green.

    BTW, I’ve found that while the #14 is physiologically safe for your eyes, the Sun looks better if I use the #14 filter while also wearing my regular sunglasses. But that could just be me.

  8. Does the Planet Fun store have more of the eclipse glasses in stock? I am unable to reach anyone via phone to confirm, before traveling downtown.

  9. Staff are answering calls as fast as they can. We’re swamped. We expect a new shipment of eclipse viewers today. I’ll update blog when the truck arrives.

  10. Seth,
    Thanks for the fast reply! I’ll keep an eye on the blog and leave the phone alone :-)

  11. when we go to the certain places in downtown utah, like the Gateway, will we be able to buy the right glasses there before the viewing

  12. Stacie,

    We are now (1:00 PM Friday) completely sold out of eclipse viewers, with no chance of a resupply before the eclipse.

    But you don’t need to have eclipse viewers with you when you visit any of the eclipse viewing sites. There will be solar filter-equipped telescopes available to the public. The eclipse begins at 6:20, reaches maximum at 7:30, and ends just as the Sun is setting around 8:30. Please come visit one of the sites!

  13. Stacie
    We are completely sold out and will not be selling any before the viewing. We will have telescopes you can look through at each viewing party location.

  14. Pingback: Total eclipse craft | The Creative Capsule

  15. Besides today’s annular eclipse, another rarity – in MY lifetime, anyway – is that I will actually be in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time to witness the eclipse. Actually, it’s the PERFECT place because I live in the mountainous area just 20 miles east of Albuquerque.

    I was in Clovis NM in 1994 and witnessed that annular eclipse – again, right time and place because Clovis was right on the path.

    Here’s hoping to be around in 2023 for the next annular eclipse!


  16. Where can I find details on the Venus eclipse? Like what time will it cross Utah skies?? And do you plan to receive more eclipse glasses?

  17. J. Duncan,

    The Venus Transit will be visible pretty much everywhere in the United States on Tuesday, June 5th.

    Refer to: for a map of visibility.

    Here in Utah, Venus first makes contact with the Sun a little after 4:00 PM MDT. The transit will still be in progress when the Sun sets. Observers in Utah will get to see about two-thirds of the transit before the Sun sets at 8:55 PM that evening.

    Yes, we’re getting a new batch of eclipse glasses. These glasses use a special aluminized mylar as the filter, which will produce a very crisp, color-free image. The glasses we carried for the annular eclipse last Sunday will work well, but for seeing the small black dot of Venus moving across the Sun without any magnification the aluminized mylar glasses will be excellent. Same price as before ($1.95).

    And like the annular eclipse on May 20th, we’ll have telescopes equipped with solar filters set up here at the Gateway and at the Dimple Dell Rec Center in Sandy. Free public viewing of the transit will begin a little before 4PM on Tuesday, June 5th.

    I recommend folks come to one of these sites. Transits of Venus are both scientifically significant and historically fascinating.

    If you miss this Transit of Venus, there won’t be another one visible in the western hemisphere until the year 2125.

    I’ll be blogging more more extensively about the transit in the next few days in a dedicated section of the planetarium’ blog, so please check back.

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