Solar Eclipse Tips: Enjoy the View (Safely) on Aug. 21

NASA map of path of Aug. 21 eclipse

Updated Aug. 15, 2017

What are you doing on Monday, Aug. 21, at 2:42 p.m.?

You may have heard about the solar eclipse that will be traversing across the U.S. that day – it’s the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years. The eclipse, when the moon will completely cover the sun, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C. Although Fairfax County is not in the path of the total eclipse, we will be treated to a partial solar eclipse. Our maximum eclipse will be at 2:42 p.m. when the sun will be about 80 percent covered, although some of the eclipse will be visible from 1:17 pm to 4:01 p.m.

Events in Our County

There are a whopping 375 solar eclipse-related programs being offered countywide. Both our Park Authority and Library have planned several events for adults and kids to learn more about this exciting event.  Many events are already full (with waiting lists) but there are still a few with open registrations.

Please note that due to extraordinary demand, the Library’s free solar eclipse glasses are goneCheck this NASA site for additional sources.

Learn More About Events at Parks Learn More About Events at Libraries


Read About the Eclipse!

You still have time to learn more about eclipses at home with a selection of books for all ages from our library branches. Here are some suggestions:

Look For Solar Eclipse Books


The Library’s Access Services will also have eclipse-related materials and exhibits for our residents who are visually impaired. The exhibits are through the month of August at the Government Center, Suite 123 and in the Government Center’s main lobby from Aug. 14 – 21. The universally designed display for both sighted and visually impaired residents will incorporate a talking tactile globe of the earth and tactile astronomy materials from NASA. These materials combine large print and contracted braille with embossed shapes and colorful wavelength tactile images of objects.

For more information, call 703-324-8380  (TTY 711) or email


How to Safely Watch the Eclipse

Watching the eclipse is an exciting and once-in-a lifetime event!  However, our Health Department encourages you to take steps to protect your eyes. Even during a partial eclipse (which is how we’ll see it in our area), viewing a solar eclipse without proper eye protection can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. You can damage your eyes if you are not using proper safety equipment to view the eclipse. Wearing ordinary sunglasses (or even multiple pairs) will not provide adequate eye protection. Talk with your eye care professional to determine the best viewing option for you. Some options include:

Make A Virginia Pinhole Projector


Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer.  The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Should you experience any eye pain or changes in vision after viewing a solar eclipse, see an eye care professional right away.

More information and safe viewing options are available from NASA, the American Astronomical Society, and Prevent Blindness.


What If It Rains on Aug. 21?

Fear not, if the weather does not cooperate in our area on Aug. 21, you can still watch the eclipse. NASA will have live video streams of the total solar eclipse from NASA television and locations across the country.

Watch NASA Live Stream


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