Home » City Guide »

Solar Eclipse Celebrations Across the Bay

All the big gatherings to view our 76% total solar eclipse on Monday
By - posted 8/20/2017 No Comment

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This is the first time since 1918 that a total eclipse will corss the entire United States.

This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

Bay Area Solar Eclipse Viewing Gatherings

This above map shows the globe view of the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. The best viewing on the west coast is near Corvallis, Oregon with the Bay Area being in the 76% totality swatch.

** Always use proper eye protection when viewing an eclipse. **
Don’t just use sunglasses, or smoked glass – you could permantly damage your eyes or even go blind.
View saftey info from NASA or timeanddate.com

For San Francisco, the eclipse starts at 9:01am with the maximum phase (76%) at 10:15am with the eclipse ending at 11:37am.

San Francisco

Cupid’s Span (SF) – Burning Man art collective PlayaBeest has put together a Facebook event page for San Franciscans to gather together to watch the eclipse at Cupid’s Span along the Embarcadero. This is a somewhat loose gathering, but has got the most attention on Facebook – FREE

Exploratorium (SF) – The museum is open early (at 9am). Gather at the Exploratorium to watch their live broadcast of the total solar eclipse happening across the United States. Learn about solar eclipses and observe a partial solar eclipse outside on the Exploratorium’s Plaza. They’ll have telescopes on their Plaza for viewing, arrive early to snag a limited pair of free solar safety glasses, and roaming astronomers available to answer questions. – Plaza viewing is free and open to the public. More astronomers, events & eclipse activities inside the museum for regular admission price $29.95 for adults.

Downtown San Francisco (SF) – At three different spots in downtown SF they’ll be handing out free eclipse sunglasses and free coffee. Locations include City Hall, Polk Street side, next to ETrade on Market Street and at The Ferry Building. Part of an awareness plan to “unplug” for the eclipse since solar power generated during the eclipse will drop. Free and open to the public.

California Academy of Sciences (SF) – Beginning at 9:30 am on August 21, safely watch the eclipse from the Living Roof and East Garden with staff and volunteer experts. They’ll also feature livestreams of the eclipse in our Naturalist Center, Academy Store, and Science Today exhibit. – Included with regular museum admission of $35.95 for adults.


Chabot Space & Science Center (Oakland) – Join the Chabot to witness this rare eclipse opportunity, which begins around 9:00 am and peaks at 10:15 am. The Center will be open from 8:00 am-1:00 pm for viewing outside or see a live feed of the total eclipse in their theaters. Eclipse viewing glasses are available for purchase. Event is free to the public.

San Rafael

San Rafael Public Library (San Rafael) –  On the Library lawn and City Hall Driveway – Free and open go the public. Enjoy a Johnny Doughnuts treat, coffee, apple juice, and science fun. There will be special glasses for your viewing safety, thanks to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and San Francisco Amateur Astronomers. Make a pinhole projection viewer, play science games, and be a citizen scientist.


You can also watch safely via an amazing live video feed from NASA taken from 11 spacecraft, 3 aircraft, 50+ high altitude balloons and from the International Space Station.

Of course don’t look at the eclipse directly without proper eye protection. – Viewing tips.  There’s also celebrations at many local Bay Area libraries.

Want to see a 100% total eclipse from San Francisco? It’s going to be a while. You’ll have to wait until December 31, 2252 – and the last one occurred in 1424.

What is It?
This celestial event is a solar eclipse in which the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, as viewed from a given location. For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds. The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979.

You can see a partial eclipse, where the moon covers only a part of the sun, anywhere in North America (see “Who can see it?”). To see a total eclipse, where the moon fully covers the sun for a short few minutes, you must be in the path of totality. The path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from West to East. The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT. Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT. From there the lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 EDT. Its longest duration will be near Carbondale, Illinois, where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and 40 seconds.

How Can You See It? – How to view safely
You never want to look directly at the sun without appropriate protection except during totality. That could severely hurt your eyes. However, there are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun including direct viewing – which requires some type of filtering device and indirect viewing where you project an image of the sun onto a screen. Both methods should produce clear images of the partial phase of an eclipse.

Check with local science museums, schools and astronomy clubs for eclipse glasses—or purchase an ISO 12312-2 compliant and CE certified pair of these special shades.