Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 5:35 am | Overcast 64º


Local News

How to Make the Most of Your Solar Eclipse Experience in Santa Barbara County

Eclipse may only be 65% full locally, but spectacle still fueling excitement and viewing parties

A solar eclipse viewing party will take place Monday morning at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol. The only safe way to look at the partially eclipsed or uneclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters. Click to view larger
A solar eclipse viewing party will take place Monday morning at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol. The only safe way to look at the partially eclipsed or uneclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

A rare coast-to-coast total eclipse will darken the sky along a 70-mile-wide swath of the United States on Monday, and skygazers in Santa Barbara County will get a chance to view part of it — morning marine layer permitting, of course.

Much of the attention is focused on a diagonal “path of totality” between Salem, Ore., and Charleston, S.C., where the moon will cover 100 percent of the sun as it passes between the sun and the Earth.

It is the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse since 1918. The next one won’t happen until 2024.

Santa Barbara County viewers will only see a 75 percent eclipse of the sun Monday morning, said Javier Rivera, astronomy programs manager at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The moon will make its move starting about 9:04 a.m., the partial eclipse will peak at 10:18 a.m. and the show will be over around 11:41 a.m.

Click here for an interactive map to find eclipse percentages and times for other areas.

As far as safe solar-scope viewing goes, before you put your eyes on the skies, follow these tips from NASA:

» Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the phase of the eclipse when the moon blocks the sun’s surface entirely. Do not look head-on at the solar eclipse and give your eyes breaks when viewing it.

» Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device, including cameras. Use special-purpose solar filters or “eclipse glasses” to watch the eclipse.

» The eclipse is best viewed when magnified. Use a telescope with a solar filter for a magnified view that shows the progress of an eclipse, if possible.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

A viewing party will take place at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Palmer Observatory, 2559 Puesta Del Sol, between 9 and 11:45 a.m. Visitors can witness the sun’s corona illuminate from behind the moon using the museum’s state-of-the-art, 20-inch telescope.

Museum guides will be on hand to provide astronomy information to guests, and viewing glasses are available for $2 in the museum store.

The museum will also livestream the total solar eclipse on its Facebook page from 10 to 10:30 a.m.

Admission is free for the observatory Monday, but a general admission ticket is required if you wish to explore the museum afterward.

Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum

The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, 705 S. McClelland St. in Santa Maria, will host a viewing event from 9 a.m. to noon.

“A limited supply of complimentary viewing glasses will be provided,” according to a museum representative. Families attending will participate in a safety presentation before receiving protective glasses, and then head to the museum’s parking lot to watch the eclipse.

“Astronomy is an observational science, and kids are keen observers of the world around them,” said Jennifer Jipson, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo childhood development professor who helped develop some of the museum’s educational activities.

“The upcoming solar eclipse offers the opportunity for them to take part in a rare moment when major astronomical events are visible during the daytime.”

Tickets are $6 for children and adults, and admission is free for children under 2 years old.


The historic event will also take place for many local students on their first day of school. Some teachers are making plans to include the eclipse in their class time.

To provide a real-world learning experience, more than 700 students, parents and faculty from Orcutt Academy’s K-8 campus and Orcutt Academy High School will gather at the high school’s blacktop and soccer field to watch the celestial show.

In Orcutt, the eclipse hits its maximum 65 percent obscuration at 10:16 a.m., according to Ty Fredriks, an Orcutt Academy science teacher.

Righetti High School students in Santa Maria will be gathering data. AP biology and freshman science students will use an environmental meter to take the temperature, relative humidity and the amount of light during the eclipse.

Staff in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District were issued information about the potential dangers and safest ways to view the eclipse, according to a district official.

In the Santa Barbara Unified School District, some teachers are planning to get their students outside to view the rare event and SBUSD officials have incorporated eclipse lesson in district-wide classes.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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