In the hours before sunset on May 20, the Earth’s moon will cross in front of the sun, creating a relatively uncommon annular solar eclipse, last seen in the continental U.S. in 1994. St. George is located just south of the central path of the eclipse and will be a prime viewing area, allowing observers to witness a rare “ring of fire” as the moon covers 95% of the sun.
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, in partnership with Dixie State College and the Virgin River Program, will be providing astronomer and ranger assisted viewing opportunities and programs during the eclipse. You are invited to safely enjoy viewing the rare eclipse from the balconies of the Washington County Water Conservation District building located off Red Hills Parkway at 533 E. Waterworks Drive, next to Pioneer Park in St. George. The gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and free solar eclipse viewing glasses will be provided to the first 250 visitors. You may bring your own telescopes, if they have a solar filter and you are welcome to bring a lawn chair for seating. (Please allow some extra time to maneuver through the road construction project on Red Hills Parkway.)
Dixie State College Astronomy Professor Samuel Tobler will set up solar telescopes for safe public viewing and be available to answer any questions. Astronomical displays and programs will also be conducted during the eclipse. The partial solar eclipse begins at 5:58 p.m. and peak annular eclipse viewing will begin at 7:32 p.m., lasting less than five minutes. At the peak, the eclipse will resemble a bulls eye with just a thin ring of sun visible around the moon. The eclipse event will end at sunset.
You can also watch the eclipse on your own from any area with clear views of the western horizon, but remember NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN WITH YOUR NAKED EYE OR THROUGH SUNGLASSES, CAMERA VIEWFINDER, OR ANY FORM OF UNFILTERED MAGNIFICATION! Indirect viewing methods using a simple “pinhole camera” to project an image of the sun onto a piece of paper will also work well.
Remember to keep the solar glasses and use them again to see the transit of Venus across the sun on June 5. The transit will be visible from anywhere in North America and will not occur again until 2117. Please visit www.nature.nps.gov/features/eclipse for the latest eclipse information, which includes safety tips, maps of the eclipse path, a complete list of national parks where the eclipse will be visible, and national parks that will feature public programs about the eclipse.