For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire United States! Observers located in Washington, D.C., will see a partial eclipse, with the Moon blocking up to 82% of the Sun.

The eclipse will be visible in Washington, D.C., from 1:17 pm to 4:01 pm EDT, with maximum eclipse at 2:42 pm EDT. Throughout this time period, visitors will be able to observe the Moon gradually moving across the face of the Sun and blocking a portion of its light. Explore our different sites and activities in Washington, DC; Chantilly, Virginia; and online on Air and Space Live, to pick your spot to observe the eclipse!


Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, National Mall Building:

  • Morning distribution of free eclipse glasses | 10:00 am, limited supply
    At the Museum entrances
  • Afternoon distribution of free eclipse glasses | Later in the day, while supplies last
    At the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory
  • Safe solar telescopes | 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    At the Observatory and outside the Independence Avenue entrance
  • Make your own pinhole eclipse viewer: pinhole art  | 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
    In Space Race and at the Observatory
  • Make your own pinhole eclipse viewer: projection rig | 11:00 am to 2:30 pm
    In Space Race (while supplies last)
  • Planetarium presentation - What's New in Space Science: Today's Solar Eclipse with Genevieve de Messieres | 10:30 am
    Albert Einstein Planetarium
  • Meet Mindy Thomas, host of NPR's Wow in the World | 10:00 to 10:50 am
    In Space Race
  • Shadow Puppets | 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
    In Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery
  • Eclipse Stories with Mindy Thomas and David DeVorkin | 11:00 to 11:30 am
    Outside the Jefferson Dr. entrance
  • Eclipsapalooza Interactive Journey with David DeVorkin and Genevieve de Messieres | 11:30 am to 12:00 pm
    Outside the Jefferson Dr. entrance

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center:

  • Free eclipse glasses | While supplies last
    Outside the entrance and inside the Museum
  • Safe solar telescopes | 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    Outside the entrance
  • Make your own pinhole eclipse viewer: pinhole art  | 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
    Inside the Museum and outside the entrance
  • Make your own pinhole eclipse viewer: projection rig | 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
    Inside the Museum
  • Portable Planetarium shows | 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm
    Inside the Museum

Off-site locations, including safe solar telescopes and free eclipse glasses (while supplies last):

Online programming:

  • Live from the path of totality
     STEM in 30 broadcast of the eclipse from Liberty, Missouri, which is in the path of totality,* on Air and Space Live

  • View of the eclipse from Washington, DC
    Streamed on the Observatory's Ustream channel 


*The path of totality is the region where the Moon will completely block the Sun, producing a "total solar eclipse," for up to 2 minutes 30 seconds. Only observers located in the path of totality will experience the total solar eclipse. 

For more information about this and other solar eclipses, visit our page on all things eclipse and NASA's 2017 Eclipse page.

The Observatory is free and open to the public during posted hours, weather permitting. For weather and closure updates, check @SIObservatory or ask at the Welcome Center when you arrive at the Museum.

Join us for other observing programs, and sign up for the Observatory newsletter (select Public Observatory News) to get notified about upcoming special events!

Accessibility: The Observatory dome and terrace are accessible via ramp or steps. Written and touchable explanatory materials are available. 

At the National Air and Space Museum's public observatory, visitors can look through the 16-inch telescope to discover craters on the Moon, spots on the Sun (using safe solar filters), and other wonders of the Universe.

This image of the Sun was taken on December 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm EST.  Two hydrogen-alpha filters were used, increasing the contrast between the bright plages (typically found near sunspot groups) and dark filaments.  The double-stacked filters do not cast even illumination, however, causing the bright stripe across the bottom of the Sun.

There is significant sunspot activity on the Sun today.  The filaments and prominences, particularly the bright prominence to the upper right, are sites of other magnetic activity.

The bright prominence erupted and dissipated about 24 hours later, as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Telescope: 60mm Hydrogen-alpha telescope with double-stacked filter.

Camera: Lumenera SKYnyx 2-2M

As spring quickly approaches and being outside is becoming more and more inviting, we Public Observatory staff continue to enjoy spending time outside with our portable telescopes.  Every sunny day between 12:30pm and 2pm, except for Mondays, we invite visitors near the Independence Avenue entrance to take a look at the sun through our specially equipped telescopes.
Astronomy Solar System Sun Telescopes