The frenzy over The Great American Eclipse that graces the skies over the United States on Monday, Aug. 21, is sweeping across the country.
Millions of people will travel to the path of totality to see the sun blocked by the Earth’s moon. Utahns wanting to see the sight will have to travel to Idaho or Wyoming for the nearest views.
Many will choose to stay in the Beehive State to send their children off to the first day of school or simply to avoid what’s predicted to be a cosmic nightmare of traffic and crowds expected along the path of totality.
Utahns will be able to see an eclipse that blocks 91 percent of the sun.
“The total eclipse is what the fuss is all about,” said Seth Jarvis, director of the Clark Planetarium. “Here in Utah there will be a very attractive deep partial, but people need to be calibrating their expectations.”
Jarvis said it will appear like sunset but from the wrong angle, and the sky will look more like dusk than late morning. The eclipse will be at its fullest in Utah at 11:33 a.m.
Patrick Wiggins, NASA/JPL solar system ambassador to Utah, put it more bluntly.
“Those not traveling outside of Utah have my deepest condolences,” he said, adding that even with only 1 percent of the sun showing, it’s still 1,000 times brighter than a full moon.
“The difference is, in fact, day and night,” he said. “In Utah, it will still be day, but on the path of totality, it will become night in the middle of the day.”
With the sun still being visible throughout the entire eclipse as seen through Utah, it is critical that anyone looking at the eclipse has a special eclipse viewer through which it’s safe to view the sun. A regular pair of sunglasses won’t protect viewers’ eyes, and no one should look directly at the sun. They are available at the Clark Planetarium and online at rainbowsymphony.com.
“Do look, but do be careful when you look,” Wiggins said. “And if you’ve got kids, make sure they know what they are doing.”
Wiggins and Jarvis expressed their deep disappointment in some schools, such as some in Murray School District, that plan to keep their children inside during the eclipse.
“It is such a huge mistake,” Jarvis said. “Here is this incredible celestial wonder, and it’s such a simple thing to make a pinhole projector.”
The Clark Planetarium hosted a teacher training on Aug. 12 to instruct teachers on how to safely view the eclipse in the hopes they will take their students outside to see it.
And while it won’t be the same as a total eclipse, it is worth looking up (with protected eyes) to see the partial eclipse on Monday.
“In Utah, it will be really interesting,” said Joe Bauman, vice president of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society. “The sun will be nearly gone, leaving a sizable bedazzling crescent in the sky with the moon encroaching on it.”
Bauman and Wiggins suggested some other fun ways to see the eclipse. Anyone with a straw hat or a kitchen colander can have the sun shine through the object and cast a bunch of circles that show the shadow of the moon swallowing up the sun.
Plan your drive
Clark Planetarium Director Seth Jarvis cautions those staying in Utah that traffic along Interstate-15 from Aug. 20 to 22 could be nightmarish as it is the second-heaviest traveled freeway in the United States. Many people from south of the path of totality will travel I-15 to get to the eclipse. Plan travel those days accordingly.
All three astronomy lovers are traveling to see the total eclipse. For Jarvis, it will be his third attempt and what he hopes to be his first successful one after car troubles and canceled travel plans sent his previous two awry. For Wiggins and Bauman, it will be their sixth.
“I’ve traveled the world to see these,” Bauman said. “For people who won’t go 300 miles, it makes no sense to me.”
Solar eclipse viewing parties
Here are the bigger viewing events taking place Monday, Aug. 21, on the Wasatch Front.
Volunteers from the planetarium and Goldman Sachs will host free events at three locations, with solar telescopes and pinhole viewers available for free; eclipse viewers will be available to buy for $2 each. Note the main library event is limited to 200 attendees.
Where • The Gateway Plaza Fountains (400 West and South Temple), Wheeler Farm (6351 S. 900 East, Murray), Salt Lake City Public Library main branch (210 E. 400 South)
When • 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Storytime, crafts, rocket launching, solar eclipse displays and more in these free events.
Bingham Creek• 10 a.m., 4834 W. 9000 South, West Jordan
Herriman• 10 a.m., 5380 W. Main St.
Holladay • 11 a.m., 2150 E. Murray-Holladay Road (4730 South)
Magna • 10 a.m., 2675 S. 8950 West
Millcreek • 10 a.m., 2266 E. Evergreen Ave.
Riverton • 10:15 a.m., 12877 S. 1830 West
Sandy• 10 a.m., 10100 S. Petunia Way (1405 East)
South Jordan • 10 a.m., 10673 S. Redwood Road
Taylorsville • 10:30 a.m., 4870 S. 2700 West
West Jordan• 10 a.m., 8030 S. 1825 West
Whitmore• 10:15 a.m., 2197 E. Fort Union Blvd.
Free solar eclipse viewers, Sunchips and Capri Sun drinks as well as free giveaways throughout the viewing.
Where • Library Plaza, 295 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
When• 10 a.m. to noon
Read space-themed stories and make pinhole eclipse viewers in this free event.
Where• The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
When• 10:15 a.m.
Free yoga at 9:30 a.m., gondola rides are all part of this event.
Cost • Needles Gondola rides are free for 17/18 Premier Season Pass holders and 2017 Summer Pass Holders. For others, cost is $14 for adults (18 and older), $10 youth (7-17) and free for those 6 and younger. Eclipse viewers on sale for $3 each. Family packages are available at snowbasin.com.
Where • 3925 Snow Basin Road, Huntsville
When • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Learn about solar eclipses, do a solar craft and watch the eclipse with special viewing glasses at this free event.
Where • Ogden Valley Branch, 131 S. 7400 East, Huntsville
When• 11 a.m. to noon
A free eclipse viewing party and a variety of science activities.
Where • Orem Public Library Storytelling Wing, 58 N. State St., Orem
When • 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.