View the 2012 Annular Solar Eclipse from a National Park
The shadow of the 2012 annular solar eclipse follows a distinct path right across some of our National Parks.
More than 30 National Parks are gearing up for the May 20 solar eclipse—the first annular solar eclipse viewable in the U.S. in the last 18 years. People across the country—from the beach at Redwoods National Park to Lassen Volcanic, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Glen Canyon, Canyon de Chelly and Petroglyph National Monuments—will hope for a clear sky to see this remarkable image of the moon centered on and covering more than 95 percent of the sun.
The Southwest could be the place to be for the best views. The eclipse begins over the Pacific and, from south of the Aleutian Islands, travels to the California coast at Redwoods National Park, then down into the high desert—an area already known for its ultra-illuminated nighttime sky.
The shadow of the eclipse travels at 1,000 mph, racing south and east over parks in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, and even the western most parts of Texas. Onlookers can view a partial eclipse in parts of many other western states, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, some of Alaska and the Dakotas. Instead of a crescent, in many places, the sun will look like an extremely bright, fiery ring during this eclipse.
Many parks will offer a ranger-led solar observing or host a solar party with the help of local, amateur astronomy clubs. Here’s a full list of all the parks that provide views of the eclipse, from partial to full annularity.
Note: Remember when your grandma used to tell you not to look at the sun because “it’ll burn your eyes out?” Well, that rule goes tenfold for a solar eclipse—especially if it’s not a total eclipse. It’s never safe to look directly at the sun without approved solar-viewing devices. The safest way to observe the sun is to build your own pinhole camera, use eclipse glasses that you buy online or from the park bookstore you’re visiting—or obtain a solar filter for your camera, telescope, or other viewing device.
Find a campground for this celestial event.
Explore more of our articles.