Where to watch the Eclipse

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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49 thoughts on “Where to watch the Eclipse

  1. I just ordered the solar viewers from your store. We plan on being in Cedar City the afternoon and night of the 20th, however when I click the Cedar City link, it refers to “maps” that will be handed out at their Elcipse Party on the 19th that show where in the Cedar City are to go. Where and how can I get a map on the 20th or can it be emailed to me? I live in Midway, UT.

    Please advise. Thx, Val Todd

  2. Neil, that’s a fascinating question. I know temps can be felt to drop during a total solar eclipse, but I don’t know about southern Utah’s annular eclipse experience or the deep partial eclipse we’ll see here in northern Utah. I’ll take an electronic thermometer with me and I’ll make some tests during the eclipse.

    With as low in the sky as the Sun will be at maximum eclipse, I think our part of the world will likely already be cooling off just because it’s so late in the day. The tell-tale will be if temps warm back up at all between maximum eclipse (~7:30 PM MDT) and the end of the eclipse just before sunset. I’ll post my test results on Monday the 21st. Why speculate when you can gather data?

  3. As of today (5/16) the planetarium has about 2,000 of the eclipse glasses. That’s about the number we go through in a day and a half. If we run out you might also try the gift shops at the new Museum of Natural History of Utah or the Leonardo. If you don’t get eclipse glasses at all then I encourage you to come to one of the viewing locations we have set up in cooperation with the Salt Lake Astronomical Socety and the U of U as described in the main article above. Come join us!

  4. Regarding the solar glasses, if the Clarke runs out, there are options online. Rainbowsymphony has some great options, and they ship really fast. I don’t know if they could ship an order tomorrow and have it arrive by Saturday, but it never hurts to call and ask.

    Of course, that’s only if the planetarium runs out. :) Otherwise, definitely run down and check them out!

    @Seth Jarvis, might you know whether or not the planetarium has any 67mm threaded solar filters?

  5. Chris,

    Rainbow Symphony is our supplier. We asked them yesterday if we could place a rush order for another batch of glasses and they laughed. Literally, they laughed. What we have is all we, or anyone else, is going to get between now and Sunday. We have enough to make it through the day today, but we’ll probably be totally out of glasses by tonight. If we run out try the Museum of Natural History or the Leonardo – I’ve heard they also carry the eclipse glasses.

    Sorry, but we do not have any screw-on solar filters for cameras. Whatever solar filters we had for cameras and telescopes are long gone. Inkley’s? Pictureline?

  6. Where is the natural history museum,and where is the Leonardo located. sorry I,m new.

  7. Natural History Museum of Utah: http://nhmu.utah.edu/

    Leonardo: http://www.theleonardo.org/

    As of right now (5PM Wednesday the 16th) I’m told that both of them have run out of eclipse glasses.

    Now for some good news! We expect a new shipment of several thousand tommorrow (Thursday) morning. That should hold us for Thursday and possibly even into Friday. I recommend not dawdling – these things go fast.

  8. Can you tell me what time Weber State is starting their event? I clicked on their link but it doesn’t say anything at all. thanks. Oh, and should I get glasses AND go to WSU?

  9. Wendy,

    I’m guessing around 6:00 PM. The eclipse begins at about 6:20 PM.

    You don’t need to have eclipse glasses with you to go to any of the viewing locations listed above, but it can’t hurt to have them, either.

  10. Is the new shipment of eclipse glasses still scheduled to arrive this morning? Thanks!

  11. Eclipse viewers just arrived (11:45 AM). We received 10,000 viewers, and we had pre-orders for 3,000.

    So for the remaining 7k:

    The store can’t take any more phone calls. Viewers are being sold on a first-come, first served basis. Same price: $1.95.

  12. Just spoke with an offical with the Salt Lake Astronomical Society. He’ll call me back later today to let me know if anyone will be running the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex. Most of those folks are headed south to see the eclipse along the centerline, so it’s iffy as to whether SPOC will be open.

    I’ll post an update when I hear back.

    Meanwhile, consider coming to Gateway by the Olympic Fountain, Library Square, U of U South Physics, Sam’s Club in Murray or the Dimple Dell Recreation Center in Sandy. Also Weber State University north of the Lind Lecture Hall.

  13. Will the eclipes be Visible from The pinveiw resavoir or will we have to come out of the Mountains?

  14. The problem with being at a mountain lake is that you tend to be surrounded by mountains and don’t have a flat horizon. At 7:30 PM, when the eclipse is at its maximum, the Sun is just eleven degrees above the horizon. That’s not much. I am medium familiar with Pineview, and I don’t think the mountains to the west of you will permit you to see much of the eclipse on Sunday. Sorry!

  15. We’re running low. It depends on how many people come by tonight. Right now I’d say if we have any Friday morning we won’t have any by Friday afternoon. I’m excited to see this much public interest in the eclipse… But holy cow!

  16. Pingback: Solar Eclipse in Utah Utah Mama

  17. How far south do you need to go to get the full annular eclipse – Is there a precise map show the path in Utah? Is Delta far enough? Beaver? minersville?

  18. Tom,

    Delta is just outside the zone that will see the angularity (ring of sunlight). Beaver is OK. So are Milford and Minersville.

    Here’s a map showing the path of the annularity through Utah:


    For an interactive GoogleMaps version, look at this:


    The centerline defines the path of exact symmetry for the annularity. You don’t have to be exactly on that centerline to see the ring of sunlight, just between the upper and lower boundaries as shown on the maps. The farther from that path you are, the less the Moon will block the Sun. Here in Salt Lake County, it’ll be close to 90% coverage. Delta will have a super-spectacular “deep partial” eclipse, since they’re just barely north of the path of annularity.

  19. will there be solar viewers at the viewing locations? (aka dimple dell, The library ect)

  20. Nickie,

    We won’t be selling viewers, but we will have plenty of equipment for people to use. there should be several telescopes equipped with solar filters at all the viewing locations.

    I’ve spent the morning making solar filters for binoculars and an eclipse projector to use with one of my small telescopes for when I am at the Dimple Dell Rec Center in Sandy.

  21. I’m tourist @ hotel Monacco willing to buy telescope or any available thing for eclipse…where/what model should I purchase. Where is best equipped venue?
    Thank you,

  22. Welcome to Salt Lake City!

    Clark Planetarium has telescopes for sale, but we are currently out of solar filters.

    It is not necessary to buy a telescope today to enjoy the eclipse. From your hotel you are a short distance from the Gateway Mall (near the fountain), Library Square and the University of Utah South Physics Building. Each of those locations will have telescopes with correct solar filters available for free public viewing. Hotel staff can guide you to any of those locations. From the Monaco you’re actually within walking distance to Library Square, and you’re a short free ride on TRAX to Gateway (go to the Arena station and then go west).

  23. Do you have any glasses left and or will they be for sale at tonights locations ?

  24. Sorry.. I think I commented on the wrong blog. Are you still having a solar eclipse viewing party at the Sams club in Murray tonight?? We are so excited to watch this tonight.

  25. Sam’s club in Murray at the WEST edge of their parking lot. Volunteers from Salt Lake Astronomical Society will be there.

  26. Will the viewing glasses be available for purchase at the Sam’s Club parking lot in Murray?

  27. I have a couple of plastic periscopes. Could these be used to view the eclipse, either directly or as projectors?

  28. Okay, so I’m not going to make it to one of the viewing sites and I don’t have fancy glasses. Does this mean I can’t go view the eclipse? Will I be immediately blinded if I do?

  29. Seth,

    You mentioned you would monitor the temps and post the results. Did you find anything facinating?

  30. Clouds during the peak of the eclipse and a breeze out of the canyons made temperature readings of no value. That’s the way it goes some days.

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