On Aug. 21 we will see the first solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1979. Our graphic explains exactly what one is, shows its path and some how-to viewing tips. By Ramon Padilla
Karl Gelles, Dann Miller, Walbert Castillo, Janet Loehrke and Sara Wise, USA TODAY NETWORK

Eclipse starts at 9:13 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, Arizona time with the peak at 10:33 a.m.

Monday, Aug. 21, marks the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States from coast to coast, west to east, since 1918.

We won’t see a total eclipse in Arizona. Scientists say about two-thirds of the sun will be covered at the peak, which happens at 10:33 a.m. Arizona time. But the sight should still be impressive and worth checking out. 

Here are 8 viewing tips from experts: 

1. When is the solar eclipse? 

The eclipse begins at 9:13 a.m. Arizona time (Mountain Standard Time) on Monday, Aug. 21, with the peak — or maximum coverage — at 10:33 a.m. The eclipse will be over at noon. 

2. What will we see in Arizona? 

The moon passes in front of the sun during an eclipse. Eclipses can be partial, meaning only a part of the sun gets blocked, or total, which is not as common and much more dramatic to witness. 

In Arizona, we’ll see a partial eclipse. The dark disc of the moon will pass slowly across the sun, covering 66 percent of it at the peak in Arizona. The sun will look like it has a big bite taken out of it, said Patrick Young, associate professor with Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

The entire eclipse will last almost three hours. But the most dramatic viewing will be around the peak. 

Outside Arizona, 14 states will experience a total eclipse with more than two minutes of darkness, according to NASA. You can check out the eclipse’s path through the states here. The total eclipse starts near Lincoln City, Oregon, cuts across the center of the country and ends near Charleston, South Carolina.

3. How can I view the eclipse safely?

In Arizona during the eclipse, “it’s not going to be OK to look directly at the sun. Ever. At all,” said Bruce Betts, director of science and technology for the Planetary Society based in Pasadena, California. 

That’s because we’re only getting a partial eclipse, so the moon will never fully block the sun. 

 Sunglasses, even dark ones, don’t provide enough protection.

The safest route is to buy eclipse glasses, making sure they have an ISO certification of 12312-2. That will block the ultraviolet and infared rays. The American Astronomical Society has compiled a list of vendors that provide the glasses. 

The eclipse can also be viewed through binoculars or telescope, as long as you have a solar filter. 

4. Attend an eclipse-viewing party

You can let the experts do the work for you: ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration is hosting an eclipse-viewing party at two locations on the Tempe campus: Outside the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 and on Hayden Lawn near the Hayden Library. Telescopes with solar filters will be set up from 9 a.m. to noon. Experts will be available to explain the eclipse. 

ASU will provide solar-eclipse glasses to the first 2,000 attendees. 

Paid parking is available on campus nearby. 

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In Tucson, the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium on the University of Arizona campus will host a solar eclipse viewing from 9 a.m. to noon on the UA Mall in front of the planetarium.  

Solar telescopes and information about the eclipse will be available for the public. Spanish-speaking graduate students from the Department of Astronomy at UA’s Steward Observatory also will be available to explain the eclipse. 

5. Stuck in the office?

You can watch streaming video of the eclipse on the Web. NASA is hosting a livestream at:

NASA plans to use 11 spacecraft, at least three aircraft and more than 50 high-altitude balloons to provide video and images of the historic event. 

Rick Fienberg, press officer with the American Astronomical Society, predicts this eclipse will be the “most-watched total solar eclipse in history.”


A total solar eclipse is coming on August 21, and even if you’re not astronomically blessed enough to be in its path, you won’t be left in the dark. Buzz60’s Amanda Kabbabe (@kabbaber) has more.

6. Make a pinhole projector

Pinhole projectors are great for kids and give them something to keep busy during the eclipse. 

You need a piece of white paper and piece of thin cardboard such as an index card. Poke a hole in the index card using a pushpin or needle. 

Stand with the sun behind you and project the sun through the index card and onto the piece of white paper on the ground. Make sure you are not in the shadow.

The farther away you hold your projector from the paper, the bigger your projected image will be. If you want to get fancy with your pinhole projector, NASA has instructions here.

Need more ideas for kids? Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor with the Planetary Society, has written a blog about sharing the eclipse with kids. 

7. Look no further than your backyard

Another interesting way to view the eclipse: The American Astronomical Society recommends looking under the shadow of a leafy tree. Depending on the light, you could see the ground dotted with crescent suns. The tiny spaces between the leaves act as a “projector.” 

READ:  From Venus to Procyon: Planets and stars visible during the 2017 eclipse

8. What if I want to take photos or video?

You can, provided you use a special purpose solar filter. The American Astronomical Society has tips for taking photos and video of the eclipse. 

If you’re using a smartphone to take photos, buy a pair of eclipse glasses, cut off the filter and tape it over the phone’s camera lens. Then hold your phone up to the sun and take the photo.

You will probably end up with a fuzzy, crescent image of the sun. But it will be your fuzzy, crescent image, said Fienberg of the American Astronomical Society.

Reach the reporter at 602-444-8072 or [email protected].

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