Turn Around Bright Eyes: Solar Eclipse Events Around the DC Area

All set – and psyched! – for the eclipse. Are you?

The 2017 Solar Eclipse that will span across the country is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most. Although DC isn’t in the “path of totality” — the moon will only cover 81% of the sun from our vantage point — it still will be something significant to experience. There are some special ways to do that around the area as various venues are hosting viewing parties and solar eclipse-themed activities to prep for, observe, and celebrate the phenomenon. Here’s a round-up of some that will be especially great with kids, plus some extra tips and resources. (PS: Does Montgomery Parks win for best event name or what? 🙂 )

Night Sky Festival
Where: Shenandoah National Park | Shenandoah, VA
When: August 18-21
Admission: Free

Celebrate the valuable resource of dark skies through guest presentations by astronomy experts, Ranger Programs, and viewing the beautiful night skies that Shenandoah National Park protects. The festival will include constellation tours, solar scope viewing, telescope viewing, Junior Ranger programs, audio-visual presentations, hands-on activities, and will culminate in viewing the 2017 Solar Eclipse! Activities take place in a variety of locations throughout the Park — visit the website to see where and when.

Solar Eclipse Day
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: August 20
Admission: $15.95/ages 2 and up

Prepare for the Solar Eclipse with activities that are out of this world! The children’s museum in Baltimore is hosting a day of sun-themed activities for little ones ahead of the big event. Check the website for the schedule, and plan on enjoying the rest of the attraction filled with all kinds of fun, engaging exhibits for kids.

Let’s Science Summer: Sun & Heat
Where: Maryland Science Center | Baltimore , MD
When: August 19-21
Admission: $24.95/adult, $18.95/child

Baltimore’s other wonderful museum for kids is also hosting activities in anticipation of Monday’s event. Make eclipse viewers for the solar eclipse, create art using the power of the sun, bake cookies in a car, and check out thermo slime as things really start to heat up. This program runs through Friday, August 25. Read more about the Maryland Science Center in this KFDC post.

Observe with Experts (+ Activities!)
Where: National Air & Space Museum | National Mall, DC
When: August 21, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Not only can you safely view the eclipse using the museum’s solar telescopes and viewers, you can enjoy a variety of activities in celebration of the event. Make you own pinhole eclipse viewer, create shadow puppets, join story time with NPR’s Wow in the World Mindy Thomas, attend a planetarium presentation, and more.

Observe with Experts
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: August 21, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

The Air & Space Chantilly extension also welcomes guests to view the eclipse from their safe solar telescopes and enjoy some special activities (though not as much as the museum on the Mall). Free viewing glasses will be available.

Total Eclipse in the Park
Where: Martin Luther King Jr. Park | Silver Spring, MD
When: August 21, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Ready for the solar eclipse? Don’t be left in the dark. Join Montgomery Parks on Monday for Total Eclipse in the Park, their free “watch” party. They’ve got your eyes covered with free solar eclipse sunglasses (while supplies last). Pack a picnic as well as blankets or chairs, and enjoy the afternoon in the park. There will be a dance party, games, giveaways, and FUN!

Accokeek Viewing Party
Where: Piscataway Park | Accokeek, MD
When: August 21, 12:30-4:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate this rare occasion with a BYO picnic on the farm. With 82% visibility, the peaceful and tranquil setting of Piscataway Park is a prime location to witness the sun disappearing behind the moon. Star gazers should begin at the Visitor Center to purchase special solar-themed refreshments and view a live stream of the event. The sky will begin to darken at 1:18 pm with the peak at 2:43 pm but visitors are welcome to drop in anytime. Receive a free pair of ISO certified solar eclipse glasses with registration. This event is free and open to all.

Solar Eclipses: Past and Present
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: August 21, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

View the solar eclipse through the lenses of safe solar telescopes provided by the National Air and Space Museum. In addition, look through the lens of history and see some records from their collections about past solar eclipses.

Observe with Animals
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: August 21
Admission: Free

Stop by the Zoo’s Pachyderm Plaza (just outside the Elephant Community Center) to view the solar eclipse through a safe solar telescope and to pick up free safe eclipse glasses provided by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

Solar Eclipse Storytime
Where: Chevy Chase Library | Chevy Chase, MD
When: August 21, 10:30am
Admission: Free

Take little ones to a special storytime with fun songs and tales about space to celebrate the solar eclipse. Learn all about it as kiddos practice early literacy skills like singing, reading, finger plays, and more.

Solar Eclipse Viewing Party
Where: Southeast Library | Capitol Hill, DC
When: August 21, 2:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the libary to view the partial solar eclipse of the sun — though not a total eclipse, this event will be incredibly special! Those who attend the event will receive a free pair of eclipse glasses (supplies limited) to view the eclipse in the garden. This event is for the whole family — all are welcome. After the eclipse there will be treats, a craft for younger participants, and discussion about what you saw.

Eclipse in the Park
Where: Ben Brenman Park | Alexandria, VA
When: August 21, 1:30-3:30pm
Admission: Free

Join Alexandria Library to watch the solar eclipse! They’ll be handing out eclipse viewing glasses on a first come-first served basis, providing snacks, and sharing the science behind the eclipse. Bring your lawn chairs to enjoy this historical event with the Alexandria community!

Zip the Eclipse
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring | Sandy Spring, MD
When: August 21
Admission: $42/ages 7-9, $49/ages 10-11, $55/ages 12+

Watch the eclipse happen from the trees! Join the Adventure Park for some fun on Monday and receive a free pair of eclipse glasses to wear as you climb. They’ll be selling HD glasses for direct solar viewing. Don’t miss out on this historic day! Kids ages 5-6 are free with paid adult.

Free at Annmarie
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: August 21
Admission: Free

In celebration of the solar eclipse, Annmarie is offering free admission on Monday. BYO equipment for viewing the sun-moon show and meet at the Tonger Fountain around 1pm when the eclipse begins. Of course, you can go early and enjoy the Fairies in the Garden exhibit and the rest of Annmarie’s art filled grounds.

**More Tips & Resources**
* If you’re still looking for glasses to view the eclipse, the National Air & Space Museum, both on the National Mall and the Udvar-Hazy Center, are giving them away daily while supplies last each day. Get there on the early side — the museum opens at 10am — as there were already lines when I arrived at the DC location at opening time. A KFDC reader also let me know that Walmart on H Street NW has (had?) them for $1. UPDATE: The National Park Service table at REI apparently has them, too.
* NASA has a very comprehensive guide to everything solar eclipse — scientific information, safety guidelines, events around the country, related activities, and more.
* Capital Weather Gang also has a guide to viewing the solar eclipse in the DC area, including timing and what to expect.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2017, All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Special Event, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *