clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Solar eclipse 2017: Where to watch, what to expect in LA

New, 1 comment

We won’t see a full eclipse, but a partial eclipse is still pretty special

The Griffith Observatory is one of the places hosting a viewing party for Monday’s solar eclipse.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on August 16, 2017 and has been updated with the most recent information.

An awesome astronomical event—a total solar eclipse—will be visible today from coast-to-coast for the first time in nearly a century.

Astronomers and eclipse chasers describe the rare spectacle of a total eclipse as euphoric and life-changing, but only places that fall in the direct path of the moon’s shadow will see the sun completely shrouded by the moon.

See the huge crowds turning out in LA to watch the solar eclipse

Los Angeles is not one of those lucky cities positioned in the path of totality. It will be treated instead to a partial eclipse. But that’s still pretty special, says David Reitzel, an astronomy lecturer at the Griffith Observatory.

Solar eclipses only occur twice a year, and to see them, you have to be on the right side of Earth. The last solar eclipse visible in LA was in 2014. After Monday, you’ll have to wait six years to see another one, according to Reitzel.

Eclipses, even partial ones, are reminders, he says, that “we live in a universe, that we have a moon, and that we understand, very well, celestial mechanics and physics.”

“We’re able to predict eclipses thousands of years into the future, and we’re getting it right,” Reitzel says. “We can enjoy the spectacle, and we should celebrate our civilization and understanding of science.”

Below, we’ve rounded local viewing events and key facts, including what time to step outside to look up at the sky—if you do, it’s absolutely critical that you protect your eyes. Happy sky gazing!

How much of an eclipse will we see here?

In Los Angeles, the moon will obscure about 70 percent of the sun’s diameter and 62 percent of its area.

For a precise estimate, check out this handy interactive tool from Vox that tells you how much of the eclipse you’ll be able to see in your zip code.

What time does the eclipse start in Los Angeles?

It will happen rather slowly, over about a 2.5-hour period, starting at 9:05 a.m.

Experts expect it will peak here just before 10:22 a.m. “At that point the sun will kind of look like a tilted smile in the sky,” E.C. Krupp, director of Griffith Observatory, told the Los Angeles Times. It will be over by 11:45 a.m.

What will it look like?

In Los Angeles, “It will kind of look like a cloudy day,” Marco Velli, a professor of space physics at UCLA and a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tells Curbed.

Reitzel, with the Observatory, agrees that it won’t be mind-blowing. But, he says, you’ll definitely be able to tell that the sun is less bright. It will feel a little dimmer. It will feel like a cooler morning.

“Carving out a little bit of time from your morning to see some of these amazing effects is worth it,” he says.

And, in case you need any more convincing, Tyler Nordgren, a physics professor at the University of Redlands, tells the New York Times that a partial eclipse is not to be missed:

“Under no circumstances should anyone think, ‘Eh, it’s not going to be a big deal’ ... If nothing else, every single person in the United States is going to be in part of the moon’s shadow that day.”

What will the weather be like on eclipse day?

The eclipse will be best viewed in a cloudless sky that’s not obscured by buildings. The National Weather Service forecast on Monday morning calls for patchy fog followed by sunny skies.

The interactive map to the right shows the likelihood of being able to view the eclipse. Zoom into and click on individual neighborhoods and cities to see the “viewable” percentage; a higher percentage means you’re more likely to have a view unobstructed by clouds.