Aug. 21 Solar Eclipse Events in the Triangle
View the Great American Eclipse and explore all things celestial at these local events taking place Aug. 21.
Image courtesy of Allexxander/Shutterstock.com
On Monday, Aug. 21, when the moon passes in front of the sun, the entire U.S. will experience a partial solar eclipse for up to a few hours, with 12 states in the path of a total solar eclipse.
A total solar eclipse is an awe-inspiring sight and, for those of us living in North America today, pretty rare. This is the first time in 99 years that a total eclipse has spanned the country — from Oregon to South Carolina — and the first full eclipse visible anywhere in the lower 48 states since 1979. (The next full eclipse visible in North Carolina won’t be until 2078!) During totality, the sky goes dark during daytime; the temperature drops; and the sun’s corona, bright stars and planets become visible.
See our earlier post, What You Need to Know About This Summer’s Solar Eclipse, for a list of North and South Carolina locations that will experience totality and to learn how to view the eclipse safely. Remember, it is harmful to look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse.
The view of the eclipse in Raleigh will reach 93 percent of total sun coverage — still a sight to behold— at 2:44 p.m. Aug. 21. If you’re not able to head out of town to see the full eclipse, these local spots are offering special eclipse-viewing events:
The Great American Eclipse at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh FREE
If you don’t want to stand outside, or if the weather won’t allow you to see the solar eclipse from home, you can watch it via video link from the comfort of the Daily Planet Theater at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Museum astrophysicist Rachel Smith will join in via a video call from the path of totality in Sylva, North Carolina. The museum opens at noon, with the link-up beginning at 2 p.m. and the full eclipse occurring at 2:32 p.m. Coverage will end at 3 p.m. Free.
On Monday, Aug. 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., guests are invited to join the Museum of Life and Science for a deeper look at the science behind the eclipse with hands-on activities exploring heliophysics, the study of the sun and a solarscope viewing party during the eclipse peak. A safe viewing alternative for those unable to purchase eclipse glasses, solarscopes project a large image of the sun using a series of mirrors and lenses. All eclipse activities are included with general museum admission.
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is holding an eclipse-viewing event for the public starting at noon. Limited tickets ($6) are available for the 20-minute planetarium program on the solar eclipse, offered noon-4:30 p.m. Free drop-in activities will include a live stream of the path of totality, games, activities, food trucks and more. Stop by the gift shop to purchase solar eclipse glasses as well as 2017 eclipse memorabilia.
Duke Gardens is a beautiful spot to observe the eclipse. Its free, drop-in Solar Eclipse Celebration runs noon-5 p.m., with hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. The celebration includes observation stations in the garden to facilitate safe viewing of the eclipse, citizen science activities, a live stream of the total eclipse, crafts, experiments and other activities to explore astronomy and earth sciences. Rain or shine. Parking fees ($2 per hour) apply in Duke Gardens lots.
North Carolina State University’s College of Sciences is celebrating Eclipse Day in the Brickyard. The celebration, open to the public, will include science activities and eclipse-related fun, including free solar glasses and a pinhole camera creation station, citizen science activities to monitor changes in weather and animal behavior over the course of the eclipse, a mini weather tower on-site, real-time streams of solar observations and weather data along the path of totality, a weather balloon launch, physics demonstrations, games and more. The event runs 12:30-4 p.m. Free.