How ironic. Here we are, quick to brag about our 200 days a year with clear skies — but we're nowhere near the most anticipated heavenly spectacle in decades.
While the truly spectacular sights (read, the total solar eclipse) will not come to a telescope near you if you live in Tucson or anywhere in the Southwest, you can still enjoy the partial solar eclipse, during which you will see 60 percent of the sun covered by the moon.
Here is a roundup of events hosted by the University of Arizona to celebrate the eclipse. It's important to enjoy the eclipse safely. That means to never look at the sun without approved solar viewing glasses (beware of fake ones). Unlike those lucky ones in the "path of totality" who can enjoy the two and a half minutes of the sun's glare being blocked completely by the moon, those of us who have to contend with a partial eclipse never will have a safe moment to take a peek with unprotected eyes.
The UA's Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium will host a Solar Eclipse Weekend starting on Friday, then a Solar Eclipse Viewing Event on Monday, the big day.
"From Tucson, we’ll see the moon cover 60 percent of the face of the sun, a partial solar eclipse that will appear as a crescent sun," said Flandrau's Shipherd Reed. "On Monday, the moon will begin to cross the sun at 9:16 a.m., and the maximum eclipse will take place at 10:36 a.m."
Although eclipses in general are not rare, Reed adds that it is rare for the path of totality to cross the United States, and even for a partial eclipse of this magnitude to be visible from Tucson. The next total solar eclipse that will be visible from anywhere in the continental United States will not take place until 2024.
Times for the 2017 solar eclipse in Tucson:
- Start: 9:16 a.m. MST
- Max: 10:36 a.m. MST
- End: 12:03 p.m. MST
Solar Eclipse Weekend (Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium):
- Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Flandrau will have special planetarium shows on the weekend to answer questions such as: What is a solar eclipse? How often do they happen? How do we view them safely?
"For children and families, we'll have 'mini-talks' about the solar eclipse after kid-friendly planetarium shows," Reed said. "For families and adults, we'll have special live shows dedicated to eclipse science called 'Partial Eclipse of the Tucson Sky,' delivered by our talented planetarium operators."
Before or after a planetarium show, visitors can enjoy eclipse activities such as building your own pinhole viewing box to view a solar eclipse. Eclipse activities will take place during regular hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"One of the best ways to safely see the eclipse is by using solar viewing glasses," Reed said. "We just got a new shipment and have plenty of them available at Flandrau."
Solar Eclipse Viewing Event (Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium):
- Monday, 9 a.m. to noon
In collaboration with the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, the UA’s Steward Observatory and the UA College of Optical Sciences, Flandrau will host a Solar Eclipse Viewing Event on the UA Mall in front of Flandrau. Solar telescopes and information about the eclipse will be available to the public, and UA students and graduate students be on the mall to guide the viewing experience.
On the morning of the eclipse, admission to Flandrau will be free to the public from 9 a.m. to noon.
For Flandrau's schedule of shows and hours of operation, visit www.flandrau.org.
Remember to never look at the sun without proper solar viewing glasses or filters. Approved viewing glasses can be purchased at Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium for $5. Also, Monday will be the first day of fall classes at the UA; traffic will be heavy and parking limited. Flandrau is a short walk from Tucson's Sun Link streetcar line.
Solar Eclipse Viewing Event (UA Mount Lemmon SkyCenter):
- Monday, 9 a.m. to noon
SkyCenter solar telescopes for public viewing will be set up on the north side of the main ramada near the visitor center at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. SkyCenter staff will be on hand to answer questions and help with safe viewing of the eclipse. Note: Visitors will need to pay the usage fee to access Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.