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Your Guide to Viewing the Solar Eclipse from the First Coast

Did you hear? It’s the celestial event of the century on Monday, August 21st! A total solar eclipse like this hasn’t been visible from the United States since 1979. Don’t know much about it? That’s okay — I’ve got you covered. Read on for all your eclipse-viewing needs!

So, what exactly is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, partially or fully blocking out the Sun from our planet. During a partial eclipse, it looks like a portion of the sun is missing. However, a total eclipse will completely obscure the Sun from view in the line of totality. Check out NASA’s handy interactive map to see where the line of totality falls across the U.S.! To see what the eclipse will look like from our area, check out this fun simulator, or check the diagram below. A solar eclipse (even a partial one!) is a great opportunity to bring science class to life, and it’s an experience your kids (even the little ones!) will remember forever.

Eclipse Diagram by NASA

Where should I go to see it?

Your closest chance to see the Sun fully eclipsed is in South Carolina. But if you’re not up for the drive, that’s okay! You can still see a partial phase from anywhere in the United States. You don’t need to be anywhere special — just make sure you’re somewhere with a cloudless view of the sky to see this rare wonder. Prime viewing will take place at 2:47 pm, so be sure to get set up in time. Can’t make it outside? That’s okay. NASA has a live stream set up you can watch from anywhere! There are also quite a few local events taking place where you’ll be able to view the eclipse:

Solar Eclipse Celebration with SJCPLS at Collier-Blocker-Puryear Park

10 N. Holmes Blvd., St. Augustine, FL 32084
The St. Johns County Public Library System, in partnership with St. Johns County Parks and Recreation, and NASA @ My Library, will be hosting a solar eclipse celebration on Monday, August 21 from 1pm to 4pm. Eclipse viewing glasses will be provided by the Space Science Institute through a grant funded by the Moore Foundation. 

Solar Eclipse Viewing – Main Branch Library

1960 N. Ponce De Leon Blvd., St. Augustine, FL 32084
All ages! No registration required. Drop by the Main Library between noon and 4pm on August 21. We’ll be live streaming NASA’s solar eclipse coverage and providing free solar glasses to the first 100 attendees. Prime eclipse viewing will be at 2:47pm.

Total Solar Eclipse Live Stream & Learning Lab – Ponte Vedra Branch Library

101 Library Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
Everyone is invited to gather for the live streaming of the eclipse on our big screen with surround sound! You can also make your own solar eclipse viewers, but bring your own cereal box! Free solar eclipse glasses purchased by the Friends of the Library will be available while supplies last. Festivities will begin at 10:30am and last until 3:30pm.

Solar Eclipse Viewing Party – Southeast Branch Library

6670 US1 South, St. Augustine, FL 32086
Southeast is hosting a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party beginning at 2pm on August 21. Watch NASA’s live solar eclipse coverage and get a free pair of solar-viewing glasses while supplies last. Crafts and interactive displays will be available for kids of all ages. Make sure to check out the shuttle our amazing librarians created for the event!

Experience the Solar Eclipse – Fort Matanzas National Monument

8635 A1A South, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Friday, August 18th through Monday, August 21, join us to participate in activities for the whole family, earn special eclipse Jr. Ranger stickers, and view special videos about the history and science of solar eclipses. Pick up free glasses specifically designed for viewing the Sun. On Monday, join us at the Visitor Center at 1pm for a ranger presentation about the history and cultural perspectives of solar eclipses. The partial eclipse will begin at 1:17pm.

The Great American Eclipse – Main Library (Jacksonville)

303 N. Laura St., Jacksonville, FL 32202
Come join us in the Jax Makerspace on August 21 at 2pm as we explore the science behind eclipses with hands on projects and activities. Then, join us at 2pm in the Main Library Courtyard to view the eclipse firsthand. Eclipse glasses will be available for attendees, while supplies last. 

What do I need to view the eclipse?

You definitely need eclipse glasses. Please don’t stare at the Sun! The Sun’s visible rays can cause very serious damage to the sensitive tissues of your eyes. Many public libraries are giving away eclipse glasses for free (while they last) at eclipse-related programs and classes. More on that below. You can also purchase your own viewers, but please be sure to follow NASA’s safety guidelines. There are several non-certified glasses being sold online as eclipse glasses. Make sure that your glasses say they are ISO 12312-2 certified on the back, in small print. The American Astronomical Society has put together a great list of reputable vendors for eclipse glasses. You don’t need a telescope, but if you decide to use one, make sure to have a proper solar filter. 

Photo from SJCPLS, used with permission.

The Sun, Moon, and Stars at Your Public Library

Did you know the St. Johns County Public Library System is one of only 75 libraries nationwide to be selected for the NASA @ My Library program? That means our local libraries will be providing amazing NASA-sponsored classes, speakers, and resources over the next year. The program is being rolled out in phases, so be on the lookout for exciting space-related events at libraries near you!

Check out the NASA @ My Library page on the St. Johns County Public Library System website to view their eclipse-related events. Many libraries are providing educational classes beforehand, and viewing events on the day-of. 

Live in Jacksonville? The Jacksonville Public Library is also hosting a variety of eclipse-related events before and during the event. Check their eclipse page to learn more!

Are you planning anything special for the eclipse? Let us know in the comments!

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One Response to Your Guide to Viewing the Solar Eclipse from the First Coast

  1. leslie g. August 14, 2017 at 11:24 pm #

    Lots of great solar eclipse activities happening throughout Northeast Florida and love that most of them are free!!