A solar eclipse, an event that occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and the earth, is a relatively rare occurrence.
The total solar eclipse fondly nicknamed “The Great American Eclipse,” which will cast its shadow from the coast of Oregon to South Carolina on August 21, is an even rarer event. The last time a total eclipse crossed the continental United States was in 1919.
Unfortunately for us desert dwellers, California is not in the path of totality. However, we will be able to see a partial eclipse of about 60-75 percent.
There is one important caveat when observing a partial eclipse: Never – and I cannot emphasize this strongly enough – look directly at the eclipse without special glasses. You can permanently damage your eyes if you look directly at it. NASA and the American Astronomical Society have a list of manufacturers who make safe glasses for eclipse viewing. (https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar–filters).
Even though we will not be able to observe a total eclipse, there will still be several watching parties being held across the desert:
Palm Springs Library, 300 S. Sunrise Way – The viewing party on August 21 is from 9:30 to 10:45 AM. There will be community information booths and a live radio broadcast. For more information – palmspringslibrary.org.
Top of the Tram – People can watch the eclipse from the viewing deck of the Tramway’s Mountain station. The park will provide NASA-approved solar viewing glasses to the first 50 people and will have a telescope with a solar filter available. Tram tickets cost $23.95 for seniors. For more information – pstramway.com.
High Desert – Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center, 9697 Utah Trail, 29 Palms – viewing starts at 9:45 AM. Solar viewing glasses will be provided and a solar telescope will be set up for viewing. No admittance fee. For more information – skysthelimit29.org.
For those who cannot attend any of the watching events, the NASA channel will be broadcasting the event on their cable channel and YouTube, and various news channels like CNN will be covering it as well.
For more information about the eclipse please visit eclipse2017.nasa.gov. It’s a great website.
Happy and safe viewing!