All You Need to Know About Watching the Solar Eclipse in the Bay Area

The eclipse will take place on August 21

  • LIVE VIDEO of Monday's total solar eclipse from NASA Television and locations across the country will be available on NASA's website.

For the first time in nearly 40 years, a solar eclipse will be visible in the United States, and it has more than just astronomy fanatics in a frenzy of excitement

The Bay Area is not in the path of totality this go around, but folks will be able catch portions of the eclipse between 9:01 a.m and 11:37 a.m. with the peak of the eclipse occurring around 10:16 a.m. Roughly 75 percent of the sun will be hidden by the moon at that time.

While many have already made preparations for the event, here are some facts about the upcoming eclipse.

Eye protection is key for those attempting to catch a glimpse of Monday’s solar eclipse. Bob Redell reports.

What is a solar eclipse?

According to NASA, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves in front of the sun, creating a barrier between Earth and the sun. The eclipse this year will last no more than three minutes in its totality. Along with being able to see the sun completely covered, viewers will be exposed to a partial eclipse as well. This will display the moon’s movements as it blocks out the sun. 

For the first time in 40 years, a solar eclipse will be visible in the United States, and it has more than just astronomy fanatics in a frenzy of excitement. Mark Matthews, Christie Smith and Rob Mayeda report.

Where can the solar eclipse be seen?

The total eclipse in America will be visible in 14 states, according to NASA. Although California is omitted from the list (The last occurrence in California was 128 years ago!), those wanting to experience it can venture up to Oregon. Other states where the complete solar eclipse can be seen are Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana. The last location to be passed through is South Carolina.

People who reach some of the gatherings will need special glasses to view the solar eclipse. Only when the moon is completely covering the sun can spectators remove their glasses.

NBC Bay Area’s Mark Matthews takes a look at how the city of casper, Wyoming is preparing for the solar eclipse.

Can’t make it to the eclipse?

If you can't make the trek to neighboring states for the eclipse, Bay Area locales will be hosting parties to celebrate.

Places such as San Francisco's Exploritorium will have composer Wayne Grim give a live performance of his composition accompanied by the Kronos Quartet during the solar eclipse. The composition will use homemade software that converts real-time data from the eclipse into soundscapes. 

"It'll look at the brightness, it'll look at the color," said Grim. "It'll look at the actual movement you see."  

Grim's performance will last the three-hour duration of the eclipse and is already sold out.

Here's a list of other Bay Area solar eclipse viewing parties. 

  • The Exploratorium in San Francisco will be broadcasting the total solar eclipse live and inviting guests to view the partial eclipse from its plaza.
  • The California Academy of Sciences will hold an event similar to the Exploratorium. Staff and volunteers will be answering any questions visitors may have about the phenomenon, guiding them to a viewing area.
  • Happy Hollow Park and Zoo will be handing out special viewing glasses for attendees who stop by. While there, spectators can watch the partial eclipse as well as enjoy the park's usual amenities. 
  • Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland is inviting the community for free to view the partial eclipse from its center or watch a live feed in its theater. The center will be selling eclipse glasses. 
  • NASA Ames Research Center will have a public eclipse viewing event at the center starting at 8 a.m. 
  • Sonoma Robert Ferguson Observatory in Sonoma County is inviting the community to view the solar eclipse with its solar telescopes and eclipse glasses. 
  • San Jose Astronomical Association will be holding a viewing event a Houge Park for the eclipse. The event is open to the public. 
  • GRPC Solar Eclipse Viewing in San Jose will host a solar eclipse party at the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy.
  • San Francisco Embarcadero will have Cupid's Span viewing party for free.
  • 21 Libraries in the Bay Area will host eclipse events and will be distributing more than 2 million free eclipse glasses and 4,000 education kits to more than 7,000 library locations.  
We all know it’s bad to look directly at the sun. But next Monday people all over the country will be tempted to do just that, as they look up at the solar eclipse. Experts say regular sunglasses aren’t enough to protect your eyes. Instead, you need solar glasses . They block 99-percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays, and...

Where to buy solar glasses? 

Viewing the sun directly without proper solar glasses can cause injury to your eyes. Here' s a list of stores currently selling them. 

Find a list of reputable and authorized brands of solar viewers on the American Astronomical Society website.

If you're looking to stay home and throw your own party, NASA will be live streaming the event from locations across the country as well.

If you haven’t been able to find a pair of those coveted eclipse glasses, you can still have your own personal solar eclipse experience with a total eclipse of the sun forever stamp. The commemorative stamp was unveiled in June and is selling fast. The stamps were printed with special ink that is activated by heat. When you press your...

If looking to grab memorabilia of the event, the US Postal Service has released a stamp set of the total solar eclipse. The exclusive sheet holds 16 individual stamps that reveal the moon when a finger is placed on the image of the eclipse, heating up the stamp. The original photograph will reappear once the stamp has cooled. The reverse side holds the path of the eclipse across the United States. 

Monday’s solar eclipse presents concerns about power ahead of the historic event. Kris Sanchez reports.

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