Skip to main content

Solar Eclipse

Hero image showing the 2017 total solar eclipse
The upcoming Great North American Eclipse will stretch across much of the continental US on April 8, 2024. Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani.

What is a solar eclipse?

During a solar eclipse the the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the Sun.  This is different from a lunar eclipse, when the Earth blocks most of the sunlight that normally reaches the Moon

Upcoming eclipses:

Watch this NASA video to learn more about the different roles of the Moon in lunar and solar eclipses.

The April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse will stretch across much of the continental US. 

Who Can See It

Lots of people! Everyone in the contiguous United States, in fact, everyone in North America plus parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe will see at least a partial solar eclipse.

Where Can You See It?

You can see a partial eclipse, where the moon covers only a part of the sun, anywhere in North America (see "Who can see it?"). To see a total eclipse, where the moon fully covers the sun for a short few minutes, you must be in the path of totality. In 2024 the path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from Southwest to Northeast. 

Viewing the eclipse shadow using a colander

When Can You See It?

Times for partial and total phases of the eclipse vary depending on your location. This interactive maps will show you times for the partial and total eclipse anywhere in the world. l

How Can You See It?

You never want to look directly at the sun without appropriate protection except during totality.  That could severely hurt your eyes.  However, there are numerous safe ways to view an eclipse.  Click here for eclipse viewing techniques and safety. 

Exploring the Solar System: Solar Eclipse activity

Hands-on Activities During Your Event

Finding Experts to Volunteer at Your Event

We encourage you to seek out local experts for your public events.  Many astronomy enthusiasts plan to travel to the path of totality, but many will be staying closer to home, so please check out all of these different resources to find experts near you:  

Affordable Eclipse Glasses 

OMSI solar eclipse event

An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won't want to miss, but you must carefully follow safety procedures. It is vital that you protect your eyes at all times. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are NOT safe for looking at the Sun. To date, only three manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and hand-held solar viewers meet the standards for such products.

Sources for eclipse glasses

  1. Rainbow Symphony 
  2. American Paper Optics
  3. Thousand Oaks Optical
  4. (educator discount)

If you don't have glasses there are other ways to see the eclipse safely:

Planning and Preparing for Your Solar Eclipse Event - information below is archived from the 2017 total solar eclipse

Live Streaming of the Solar Eclipse -  information below is archived from the 2017 total solar eclipse

The Exploratorium will be live streaming the solar eclipse in multiple formats including on mobile devices, including:

Citizen Science Projects  - information below is archived from the 2017 total solar eclipse

The 2017 solar eclipse presents many opportunities for amateur astronomers and lifelong learners to get in on the fun of doing science.  This includes research projects about the sun, the moon, other sun-planet-moon systems, and even eclipses in other stellar systems. 


Learn about upcoming opportunities, events, ways to grow professionally, and inspiring stories from network partners.