Solar Eclipse 2017

Solar Eclipse Week Events

"The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017" with Dr. Regina Jorgenson & Jascin Finger

This joint presentation will prepare viewers to understand the scientific and historical context of the total solar eclipse occurring on August 21, 2017. Join the MMA’s Director of Astronomy and the MMA’s Deputy Director and Curator of the Mitchell House, Archives, & Special Collections as they explore the significance of this amazing celestial event. The information shared will demystify the natural phenomena and shed light onto how solar eclipses were perceived by early astronomers including Maria Mitchell herself. The presentation will include information about why we have eclipses, how to view them safely, and what to expect on August 21.

Wednesday, August 16 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM 33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

Pinhole Camera Workshops Register

Learn to make a pinhole camera from a shoe-box so that you can indirectly observe the eclipse and see the different phases. It’s a safe and fun way to observe the eclipse.

Pre-registration is required

Tuesday, August 15th
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Members: $7
Non-members: $12

Meet at Vestal Street Observatory

Eclipse Workshop

Get ready for the big day with MMA astronomy interns and staff members! They will go over everything you need to know about this rare phenomena. Besides information and safety tips, you’ll also receive free solar glasses to allow you to safely observe the eclipse!

Sunday, August 20th
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Meet at Vestal Street Observatory

Free event for all!

Eclipse Party

Come together to observe the partial solar eclipse as we watch NASA’s Live Stream and observe through the solar scope. MMA’s Director of Astronomy will also join the group via Skype as she reports her observations from viewing the total eclipse in Oregon.

Monday, August 21st
1:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Meet at Vestal Street Observatory

Free event for all!

Learn More


On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible in the continental U.S. for the first time in almost 40 years. Remarkably, the total eclipse will ONLY be visible in the U.S. and no other country.

What exactly is a total eclipse of the Sun?

It’s when the Moon gets between the Sun and the Earth and covers up the Sun. It just so happens that the Moon and the Sun, as seen from Earth, are the same size in the sky. So if the two are exactly lined up, the Moon can hide the entire Sun from our sight. When this happens, the sky goes dark and the faint outer layers of the Sun become visible – making a beautiful ring of light around the edge of the dark Moon.

Where will the eclipse of 2017 be visible?

To see the total eclipse, you must be standing right in the dark shadow of the Moon. The path of the shadow will only be about 60 – 70 miles wide, so you have to be in just the right place. The shadow spot begins its passage across the U.S. in western Oregon, and then crosses parts of Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. A less spectacular partial eclipse, where the Moon “takes a bite out of the Sun,” will be visible throughout the U.S., much of Canada, Mexico, plus Central and upper South America. In the Nantucket area, about 75% of the Sun will be covered.

How long with the total eclipse last?

The exact cosmic line-up that forms the total phase this time will last a maximum of 2 minutes 40 seconds (exact time depends on your location.) Also, remember that for you to see the eclipse, the sky must be clear. If clouds hide the Sun, you’ll miss all the fun. So selecting the spot for viewing also means paying attention to the history of August weather in each location.

Are eclipses of the Sun dangerous to watch?

The Sun’s visible (and invisible) rays can cause serious damage to the sensitive tissues of the eye, often without our being immediately aware of it! Normally, our common sense protects us from looking directly at the Sun for more than a second. But during an eclipse, astronomical enthusiasm can overwhelm common sense, and people can wind up staring at the Sun for too long. The few minutes of total eclipse ARE safe, but anytime a piece of the bright Sun shows, your eyes are in danger. Paper glasses with safe filters made of protective material can be purchased inexpensively; see, for example:

If I miss this eclipse, when is the next US one?

The next eclipse to go through the continental US will be in 2024. It will go through a different set of states than the one in 2017.

Where can I learn more about this eclipse?

Go to and click on the link for a free 8-page intro to the eclipse.

Learn More About Our Director Of Astronomy!