A Solar Eclipse

Eclipse 2017

For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire United States on August 21, 2017.

The Moon will pass between the Sun and the Earth, and its shadow will sweep across the country. Find out how you can see a solar eclipse and more with the National Air and Space Museum. See you in the shadow!

Please Note: The National Air and Space Museum is making a limited number of eclipse glasses available to the public each day. Glasses are distributed on a first-come first-served basis with a maximum of 2 glasses per group while supplies last. 

Eclipse 101 Watch With Us See Stories


Eclipse 101

Your quick guide to everything you need to know about the solar eclipse. 

Lightning Lessons

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and blocks the bright light of the Sun’s surface from view. The shadow of the Moon will fall in a small path on Earth’s surface, called the zone of totality. Learn more > 

How do you view the solar eclipse safely?

In the shadow, during the few minutes of totality when the Sun is completely blocked, you can view the total solar eclipse without any eye protection. Anywhere outside that zone, view the partial solar eclipse with safe solar viewers, make a pinhole projection, or add a safe solar filter to your telescope. NSTA has a free eclipse observing guide, and NASA has a step-by-step eclipse safety guide. Learn more >

Where and when can I see the solar eclipse?

Whether you are in the path of totality or not, find out how much of the eclipse you will see with this interactive map. You can also use NASA’s interactive maps to find out where you can view the solar eclipse safely.

The eclipse will be visible in Washington, DC, from 1:17 pm to 4:01 pm EDT, with maximum eclipse at 2:42 pm EDT. You can find the best time in your area with NASA's interactive map

Teacher Resources

The solar eclipse is a unique chance to engage students in first-hand astronomy. Simple activities like building projection viewers with a cereal-box or hole-punched card, and exploring the scale of the Sun and Moon through observation and eclipse modeling, are great ways to introduce the subject in the classroom. More in-depth lessons that replicate the Moon phases can help students understand why and how eclipses happen. Encourage students and their families to find easy and safe ways to observe the eclipse, whether from home or at school. There are more educator resources available from NASA and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

Watch With Us

There are many ways you can observe the solar eclipse with us, both in-person and online.

Eclipse Special: Live From Totality

Tune in to the webcast as we broadcast live from the path of totality in Liberty, Missouri, on August 21.

Observe the Eclipse with the Museum

On the day of the eclipse, visit the National Air and Space Museum to view the partial solar eclipse with us and pick up safe solar viewers (while supplies last). 


Eclipse Stories

We're exploring all things eclipse, from historical accounts to stories from eclipse chasers. 

Advice From An Eclipse Chaser

As a volunteer at the National Air and Space Museum, I’ve been talking to visitors about astronomy for 28 years. Right now is an exciting time to be volunteering here thanks to the total solar eclipse that will happen this summer. As an astronomy enthusiast and an eclipse chaser, I have some great advice to share on how best to view the 2017 eclipse. 

Read More

The Death of a King, End to a War, and the Solar Eclipse

The United States will play host to an extraordinary phenomenon known as a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth.  Eclipses have occurred throughout history, and some have fascinating stories associated with them. Take the following two tales for example.

Read More

Viewing A Solar Eclipse Safely through an Artist’s Eye

In this Van Dyke Brown photographic print from the from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum art collection, Jim Leisy (1950 – 2014) shows us one way to safely view a solar eclipse.  On first glance we see an unidentified person wandering aimlessly in a dreamy atmosphere with a box over their head. As the title Solar Eclipse suggests, the cosmic observer is actually catching a glimpse of the fleeting phenomenon with a pinhole projector.

Read More

Beyond Totality: Appreciating the Partial Eclipse

If you can’t be “in the path” on August 21, don’t lose heart! You can still see the eclipse from outside that limited region. The partial phases of the eclipse (when the Moon only partially blocks the Sun) will be visible over a huge area, from Greenland to Brazil and from Hawaii to Cape Verde. Here are some reasons why your partial eclipse experience will be awesome.

Read More