Mark Your Calendars: North American Solar Eclipse 2017


North American friends, mark your calendars for August 21, 2017, when there will be a total eclipse of the sun traversing the middle of the United States.

The last time a total eclipse crossed the entire continental U.S. was in June 8, 1918. A total eclipse touched part of the continent in February, 1979. If you miss the 2017 eclipse, you will have to wait until 2024 for the next total eclipse over North America.

What causes a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun in a path that positions the moon right in front of the sun. The moon, sun, and Earth are directly aligned.


The moon passes between the Earth and the sun on every lunar cycle (28 days); this is the “New moon.” But, because the moon’s orbit is offset from the Earth’s orbit around the sun by 5 degrees, the shadow cast by the moon does not always reach the Earth.

Depending on the orbit of the moon (its distance from the Earth and its path), an eclipse is categorized as total, annular, or partial. In a total eclipse, like the one next August, the entire sun will be obscured by the moon. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and sun, but is too far away to completely cover the sun. And, a partial eclipse happens when the moon only blocks a part of the sun. Partial eclipses are the most common.

The May 20, 2012 annular solar eclipse as viewed from a mostly-cloudy San Diego, California. ©Todd Vorenkamp
The May 20, 2012 annular solar eclipse as viewed from a mostly cloudy San Diego, California. Todd Vorenkamp

Where are the best places to view the 2017 eclipse?

Eclipses generally happen a few times each year, but they are often only visible over the ocean or in remote places. The duration of a total eclipse is short, therefore, the true total eclipse is only viewable over a small section of the Earth each time it happens. However, you can still view part of the eclipse from the areas to the right and left of the sun’s path across the Earth.

The path of the August 21, 2017 eclipse will span the US, west to east, from the Oregon Coast to the Carolinas.

The 2017 eclipse will transit the United States starting on the Oregon Coast and passing over the states of Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and finishing in South Carolina. The time from start to finish will be less than 2 hours and totality will only last approximately 2 minutes, 41.7 seconds. The viewing region of greatest totality will be in western Kentucky and the greatest duration will occur in southern Illinois.

This map shows the point of the GD—greatest eclipse duration (over southern Illinois) and GE—greatest eclipse (northwest of Nashville). The GD is where the length of the eclipse reaches its maximum, and the GE is the exact spot the axis of the moon’s shadow cone falls closest to the axis through the center of the Earth.


Do NOT view a solar eclipse with unprotected eyes. Permanent damage to your vision may occur. Special eclipse viewing glasses are needed to protect your vision. The protection afforded by regular sunglasses is insufficient.

Lunt Solar Systems 3" / 80mm f/7 ED Doublet Refractor

The Gear

People will be able to experience phases of the partial eclipse in many areas of the United States, but totality will only happen in a thin band across a handful of states. However, dedicated solar telescopes, binoculars, and add-on filters for conventional astronomical telescopes will be absolute necessities to view and enjoy this incredible astronomical event safely, no matter from which part of the country you happen to be viewing.

To enhance your eclipse viewing beyond using eclipse viewing glasses, be sure to check out the complete line of Lunt Solar Systems solar viewing telescopes and binoculars.

Over the next 12 months, B&H will be sharing other viewing gear and tips, as well.

Animated Map of the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21

The Event

Because this is the first North American total eclipse of the Internet Age, the web is already buzzing with websites and information about the 2017 North American eclipse. Read more on the B&H Explora blog about viewing and photographing the eclipse in the leadup to August 21, 2017.

For the quickest way to get your solar viewing and solar eclipse gear, click on this link!

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hola me llamo Roxana Roldan soy de argentina como puedo comprar los productos de su local es imposible mandarlos para argentina no?contestenmen por favor

En la mayoria de los productos que nosotros vendemos si se pueden enviar a su pais. Para ver mas informacion sobre los envio’s, Ponga todas los productos que usted quiere comprar en el carrito, y oprimes ver carrito. En la siguiente pagina vas a poner la direccion completa de la destinacion y vas a oprimir el boton que dice Realizar El Pago. El la siguiente pagina vas a poner la direccion de envio. En la proxima pagina vas a ver las varias opciones de envio, con los gastos y tiempo estimado de dia de entrega.

There's no mention of recommended filters for your lens.  From what I've read, if you don't have a recommended filter, you could fry your camera sensor.  Amirite?

Hey Christopher,

Sorry for the delay. I was out shooting the eclipse!

We had a few articles that talked about filters:

Yes, you can damage your sensor, eyes, and/or lenses. I hope you didn't damage anything on Monday!

Ok lot's of confusion here...some sites say Baily's Beads comes first then the Diamond Ring...other reverse that.  Which is it....?

Baily's Beads come first...before the first diamond ring....and then they come second....after the second diamond ring. :)

Sorry for the delay. I was out changing the eclipse!

B&H says, in the section labeled "GEAR"  that: "People will be able to experience phases of the partial eclipse in many areas of the United States, but since totality will only happen in a thin band across a handful of states, dedicated solar telescopes, binoculars, and add-on filters for conventional astronomical telescopes will be absolute necessities to safely view and enjoy this incredible astronomical event." THIS IS LACKING CLARITY!!  My takeaway from reading this paragraph is that only people within totality need protection! Maybe it's only me... but I doubt it. This should NOT be a long, drawn-out sentence. What you are saying ought to be broken up into 3 short, complete, and clear sentences. I am stunned that this is on your website!

Hi Ruth,

Thank you for your comment. I will ask our copy editor to make some changes to the text.

Thanks also for your concern. Enjoy the eclipse!

Dear Ms. Klein,

Thank you for your comments. I have edited this long, drawn-out, completely vague sentence into TWO, hopefully clearer, and logical sentences. Would you mind terribly letting us know what you think the third sentence should have been?

Much appreciated!

— Copy Editor

Will New York City  get to see the Solar eclipse?

Hi Leanora,

Yes, all of North America will get to see this eclipse. In New York City, you will be treated to a partial solar eclipse—not a total eclipse. In NYC you will see about 73% of the sun covered by the moon and you will need solar viewing glasses to view it.

Enjoy the show!

I purchased the Vueclipse glasses because I heard on 1010 wins that you carry certified approved viewing glasses. I don't see B&H listed on the AAS website as a reputable provider and I did not see Vueclipse as an approved brand.  Would you be so kind as to provide assurances?  Thank you!

Hey Dianna,

I have been told that all of the eclipse glasses we sell are certified. If the glasses were made in China, they might have the European certification and not the ISO standard listed. But, all of the solar viewing glasses we are selling or have sold are certified.

Thanks for asking!

Hello, am quite worryed because I'll be at school I live at Los Angeles would it be dark? Please answer I need an answer.

Hey Juan,

It will not get dark in Los Angeles until nighttime on the 21st. Don't worry!


After an eclipse what is expected?  Does it speed up time, have an affect on the weather,  or is it just a cast of faith for humanity? 

Hey Beverly,

If the giant dragon in the sky eats the sun and then fails to regurgitate it, we will be cast into darkness forever.

Good luck!

Todd Vorenkamp wrote:

Hey Beverly,

If the giant dragon in the sky eats the sun and then fails to regurgitate it, we will be cast into darkness forever.

Good luck!

 Well since the question was mine I get the picture.  No problems recorded.  No space dragons.


Just make sure you take the necessary precautions. Dragons are no joke! :)

Love It!!!!

What will the best time in Texas so see this activity?

Total solar eclipse visible (100.00% coverage of Sun)

Magnitude: 1.0148

Your best bet in Dallas is the 2024 eclipse.

Duration:2 hours, 39 minutes, 19 seconds

Duration of totality:3 minutes, 51 seconds

Partial begins:Apr 8, 2024 at 12:23:15 pm

Full begins:Apr 8, 2024 at 1:40:37 pm

Maximum:Apr 8, 2024 at 1:42:32 pm

Full ends:Apr 8, 2024 at 1:44:28 pm

Partial ends:Apr 8, 2024 at 3:02:34 pm

Times shown in local time (CDT)

So the weather forecast for Oregon on that day is for a low pressure system off the coast to bring rain & clouds to the west side of the Cascades.  Then thunderstorms to the west side.  So, if you actually want to see the eclipse in totality, go east to other States.  

Keep us posted, richj1209!

Will I be able to see a partial eclipse of the sun in San Diego, CA and if  so, about what time of the day?


Hi Bob,

Yes, you can see a partial eclipse from San Dog from 0907-1147hrs. Maximum (65%) is at 1023hrs.


Aloha: According to the video, it should pass way north of theHawaiian islands about 1700 hours, but will be able to see it? 


Hi Deborah, 

You will be able to see a partial eclipse from Hawaii.


I live in Houston, Texas, will I be able to view the solar eclipse?

Hi Maurice,

You will see a partial eclipse from Houston, TX.

Thanks for reading!

A Note on Focusing:

If you are using a long enough lens that the disk of the sun is bigger than a focus point on an autofocus camera/lens combination the autofocus might well fail because the sun is pretty featureless. You are likely to have to resort to manual focus. If you have a very long non-autofocus lens such as the Bower, Vivitar and other 500 mm stove pipes or the reflex lenses that B&H sells, you will have no choice but to be in manual focus mode.

Wherever you go to see the eclipse, it will happen near mid-day and it is likely to be hot and (hopefully) sunny. Your lens will absorb that heat, and everything, mount, glass, and tube, will expand by different amounts. This means that you cannot trust the distance scale on your lens to be accurate; the longer the lens, the less accurate the scale will be. Infinity focus will not be at the infinity mark! 

Be sure you focus manually and don't rely on the markings! If your camera has magnify and focus peaking, use them.

You can mitigate the effects of the sun's hear by wrapping the lens in a couple of layers of aluminum foil, but make sure you have access to the lens controls and the focusser through the foil. If you rip off the foil just as totality starts the lens tube will warm up and expand unevenly degrading sharpness.

I will do what astronomers usually do: I won't wrap my lenses and will let them come to thermal equilibrium over the last hour or so before totality.

Good tips, PeterZ!

I have found that autofocus can work if you put the focus sensor on the edge of the sun's disk. But, don't count on it! Focus peaking on electronic viewfinders and live view also is good to have as you will get a glowing edge on the filtered sun.

Thanks for stopping by!

I will try to take pictures of th total eclipse with my mirrorless micro 4/3 camera. The lens will be  equivalent to 900 mm in ff 24x36 camera. On the lens there will be a Marumi solar eclipse filter.

As there is no mirror in the camera, IS IT SAFE TO LOOK AT THE SUN THRU THE CAMERA VIEW FINDER ?

(Looking only at the LCD screen is very difficult: I can only see a reflection of my face!)


With the filter on, it certainly should be safe to look through the viewfinder. With the filter off, the sun might destroy the camera's sensor. But it won't hurt your eye since the VF LCDs cannot get that bright.

you know, you could use that rig now to photograph sunspots in safety.

Thanks for helping Dom, peter!

One other thing: with a lens that long, be sure your tripod is very sturdy and that, if your camera has the feature, that you use the electronic shutter and a self-timer or remote release. I speak from blurry experience.

More good stuff! Thanks!

Hi Dom,

Sorry for the delay. Yes, you may view the sun through your EVF while filtered. If you had that filter on a DSLR, you would NOT want to use the optical viewfinder.

Thanks for your question!

How can I include the foreground objects in a photo of the eclipse? Exposure suggestions?


Hey David,

That is tricky! You might want to do a composite image where you blend in an exposure of the foreground, or experiment with different exposures while shooting the eclipse.

Also, do some research on the web and see if you can extract metadata from eclipse images with foreground features that you like. That will probably be most helpful!


Where in Oregon do you think will be th he best place for viewing,  my son lives inn the Mr Hood area. 

Thank you

B see

Hey Bennye!

Anywhere where it is not cloudy!

The real answer depends on what you plan to do during the event. Are you photographing or just viewing? If photographing, are you wanting to include foreground details and scenery? There are lots of considerations. Also, I would imagine that traffic on that day is going to be pretty intense!

Hello Bennye!  From Mt Hood you'll want to take highway 26 SE toward the Warm Springs Reservation. Where the highway drops down and crosses the Deschutes river you'll see about 2 minutes of totality. Centerline of the shadow crosses 26 about halfway between the Madras and the river crossing. The closer to centerline the longer the duration. Expect to have A LOT of traffic in that area. Get some eclipse glasses and good luck!

What are the GPS coordinates of the dropped pins, for both GD & GE?



Hi K.R.,

GD: 37.5763 deg N . 089.1108 deg W

GE: 36.9664 deg N . 087.6709 deg W

Good luck!

From an aesthetic point of view, how critical is it to be on or very near the centerline of the eclipse for getting the best possible images?  Obviously, the totality time is not much different from the centerline to a mile away.  However, I'm wondering if the corona shape, diamond ring effect, or other feature is degraded the further you are from centerline.

I will have two telescopes and two camera's going on August 21st and I have easy options for a few miles from centerline, and a more remote option for exact centerline.  With one shot at this, I'm looking to do everything necessary to set up for the best images possible. 



Hey Phil,

That is a great question. The short answer is that I don't know for certain, but I will share with you my educated guess...

The closer to the centerline, the better. However, due to the size of the two objects involved, I would doubt that there is a dramatic difference in the totality experience if you are on one side of the path of totality or the other...or smack-dab in the center. 100% obscuration is 100% obscuration. Right?

If anyone else has thoughts on this, please share!


Esthetically you won't see any difference anywhere plus or minus ten miles of the centerline. Any further away and Bailey's Beads and the diamond ring might be a little skewed. And you will lose precious seconds of totality.

Hello Everyone,

I gave my solar eclipse photography talk to the Solar Science Group at NASA in Huntsville, Alabama yesterday.  I think they learned a lot.  Although they are all very smart physicists, only a few had ever been to an eclipse.  They love my smart phone solar eclipse timing app and a couple of them will be using it to time the eclipse as they lead observing areas in the Southeast.  I have fully tested the android version and it should be available in a couple of weeks.

Regarding the comment below, my app automatically geo-locates, and then calculates and loads the exact contact times for your location converted to the local time.  Two Tap Set Up and then it talks you through the eclipse.


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