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2017 Solar Eclipse

Looking back on the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017.

All of North America saw a partial solar eclipse, and a narrow swath from Oregon to South Carolina  experienced a total solar eclipse.  Below are items relevant to that event.

Chuck's Eclipse Blog Posts

Tips from 2017

As I look back at, here are some items to consider:


Contact the State Sec’y of Education to propose a “Sol Day”, the equivalent of what we in the north would call a snow day.  Ask your political leaders to lead.


Order plain white eclipse shades that only have the requisite printed warning.  That allows kids to personalize their shades in advance of the event with crayons or markers.  They can also write the contact times on their shades for the respective location.  


Use a solar eclipse countdown app (see, which calls out timely waypoints in the event.  It’s equally helpful as the end of totality approaches so you can tell your audience, “Shields up."


Place white poster board on ground and look for shadow bands in the last minute or so before totality.  I noticed them only seconds before totality.


There are the leaves and the colander tricks to project partial eclipses (  It can also be done afterward, when people tend to abandon the remainder of the eclipse that’s still underway.  


Make a solargraph ( using SunPrint paper instead of photographic paper.  I used a large hole (~5mm) instead of a pinhole, but experiment in advance.  Heck, black and white photographic paper may work with a big hole, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Here’s my result:


Make sure audience already has warm clothes on before totality so they (especially kids) are not distracted by the cold during totality.  


Set up a video camera facing the audience.  Others will have better video of the sun itself.


During totality, remind people to take shades off, tell them to look all around the horizon, point out planets, call out any measurements you make, point out features like asymmetry of corona, and note emerging stars as your eyes adapt to darkness. This is all obvious to you, but not to them.


Consider doing an experiment. As the blog post indicates, we measured darkness during totality despite our being slightly away from the eclipse centerline.  


Take advantage of a gathered audience, a new moon, and lots of telescope hardware—do a nighttime observing session the evening of April 8, 2024.  (


Prepare activities for a cloudy day.  Heck, prepare them for a sunny day.


Anticipate people having heard about the upcoming eclipse without their having prepped better.


Make a Sun Funnel ( in lieu of an eyepiece and solar film for a second telescope that can be a few people back from the front of the viewing line.  That way people can safely view the eclipse as totality approaches, it gives them something to do so they’re not impatient in line, and you’re within reach to adjust the scope when they bump it out of position.   Allow the visitors to move the scope with solargraph if it’s on a German equatorial mount, since they can slew through the one axis easy enough.  

Handout: View Safely


For a list of reputable vendors,


Safe Viewing Summary

Video courtesy of Exploratorium

Dr. Paul Doherty of the Exploratorium introduces four basic solar viewing techniques in video at    More Exploratorium videos are here.


Looking at the sun can be dangerous, but it can be done.  Follow the safety precautions described in these links.  I am not responsible for any injuries resulting from your observing the sun.  You are responsible for your own safety.


What I said in 2004 and 2012 for observing the transit of Venus.


And  what they said at

Map courtesy of Michael Zeiler,

Future Eclipses-USA

Map courtesy of Michael Zeiler,

From the Mr. Eclipse Eclipse Primer:


"The last total solar eclipse visible from the continental U.S.A. occured on Feb. 26, 1979. A total solar eclipse was visible from Hawaii and Mexico on July 11, 1991. The next two total solar eclipses visible from the U.S.A. occur on Aug. 21, 2017 and Apr. 8, 2024."

Future Eclipses-Global

Future total solar eclipses are mapped by Michael Zeiler and cataloged through 2100 by Fred Espenak, including:

Map courtesy of Michael Zeiler,

Eclipse Weather

National Weather Service

South Bend, IN

First Contact:            12:57 PM

Maximum Eclipse:   2:22 PM

Last Contact:             3:44 PM

Eclipse Flyover

Video courtesy of

Background image excerpted from: 

Dionysius the Areopagite Converting

the Pagan Philosophers

Antoine Caron

French, 1521-1599

Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Sun Funnels


The Sun Funnel is a telescope accessory that allows a group of people to observe a magnified image of the sun safely. 


Instructions to Build a Sun Funnel, updated for the 2017 eclipse by Rick Fienberg, includes images,  tips, and precautions. 


See video for introduction of 3D-printed version of the Sun Funnel .  Additional tips are at my Sun Funnel page.


Try these .stl files for 3D printing, courtesy of Adler Planetarium:

Watch short video about Sun Funnels...

Circumstances for South Bend, IN

First Contact:            12:57 PM

Maximum Eclipse:   2:22 PM

Last Contact:             3:44 PM

Map courtesy of  Xavier Jubier


NOTE: See PDF of this original page for substantial eclipse links
(Web host disabled "List" feature in 2020.)

Eye Safety

NOTE: See PDF of this original page for substantial eye safety links
(Web host disabled "List" feature in 2020.)
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