Solar Eclipse Tips

8 Notable New State Laws Effective July 1st
July 28, 2017
Drink Up! Our Tap Water Quality in Fairfax County
July 28, 2017
Show all

Solar Eclipse Tips

Enjoy the view safely…

What are you doing on Monday, August 21, at 2:42 p.m.?

You may have heard about the solar eclipse that will be traversing across the U.S. that day – it is the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years. The eclipse, when the moon will completely cover the sun, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. Although Fairfax County is not in the path of the total eclipse, we will be treated to a partial solar eclipse. Our maximum eclipse will be at 2:42 p.m. when the sun will be about 80 percent covered, although some of the eclipse will be visible from 1:17 pm to 4:01 p.m.

Events in Our County:
There are a whopping 375 solar eclipse-related programs being offered countywide. Both our Park Authority and Library have planned several events for adults and kids to learn more about this exciting event.  Many events are already full (with waiting lists) but here are a few free events for you to consider:

Saturday, July 29 – 
Darkness at Noon at Sully Historic Site, noon to 1 p.m. – In this special history program, learn about the history of solar eclipses and how those living in our county in the 1850s may have experienced eclipses. We will also show you how to make your own pinhole box viewers (safe for viewing eclipses).

Sunday, August 20 –
Safely See the Great American Eclipse at Cub Run ReCenter, 
2 to 3 p.m. – Learn about the science behind eclipses what causes them and why they are so rare in our area. You will also learn about the many ways to safely view the eclipse on Aug. 21. Program attendees receive a free pair of solar viewing shades.

Monday, August 21 – 
Eclipse! at Pohick Regional Library, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. – Learn the how and why of the coming eclipse, why glasses are needed to view one and get free eclipse glasses.

Solar Eclipse at Patrick Henry Library, 2 to 3 p.m. – Learn about solar eclipses during The Great American Solar Eclipse! Presented in collaboration with the George Mason University Observatory.

Learn More About Events at Parks
Learn More About Events at Libraries

Read About the Eclipse:
You still have time to learn more about eclipses at home with a selection of books for all ages from our library branches. Here are some suggestions:

Look For Solar Eclipse Books

How to Safely Watch the Eclipse:
Watching the eclipse is an exciting and once-in-a lifetime event!  However, our Health Department encourages you to take steps to protect your eyes. Even during a partial eclipse (which is how we’ll see it in our area), viewing a solar eclipse without proper eye protection can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. You can damage your eyes if you are not using proper safety equipment to view the eclipse. Wearing ordinary sunglasses (or even multiple pairs) will not provide adequate eye protection. Talk with your eye care professional to determine the best viewing option for you. Some options include:

Make A Virginia Pinhole Projector

Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer.  The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Should you experience any eye pain or changes in vision after viewing a solar eclipse, see an eye care professional right away.

More information and safe viewing options are available from NASA, the American Astronomical Society, and Prevent Blindness.

What If It Rains on August 21?:
Fear not, if the weather does not cooperate in our area on August 21, you can still watch the eclipse. NASA will have live video streams of the total solar eclipse from NASA television and locations across the country.

Watch NASA Live Stream