#Eclipse2017 is happening next week – and southern Utah is ready! While Utah will not be in path of totality, it is still worth a look: check out our tips for when, where, and how to view the 2017 Solar Eclipse in Southern Utah!
WHAT IS A SOLAR ECLIPSE
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.
WHO CAN SEE THE SOLAR ECLIPSE
Lots of people! Everyone in the contiguous United States, in fact, everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will see at least a partial solar eclipse, while the thin path of totality will pass through portions of 14 states. Here in Southern Utah, the eclipse will cover about 80% of the sun. The moon will start to cover the sun at 10:11am, will be at its maximum at 11:30am, and will end at 12:56pm.
HOW CAN YOU SEE THE SOLAR ECLIPSE?
Never look directly at the sun without appropriate protection. That could severely hurt your eyes. There are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun including direct viewing – which requires some type of filtering device (solar glasses) 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.
Many local locations have sold out of Solar Eclipse viewing glasses – check out a few alternatives below:
SOUTHERN UTAH’S DARK NIGHT SKY
Due to the lack of light pollution, we are fortunate here in southern Utah to be able to view natural phenomena in the skies above. Portions of Iron County remain some of the darkest and best places in the world to view the night sky. Many nighttime visitors to Cedar Breaks National Monument get to see more stars than they’ve ever seen in their lives… even when the moon is out!
CEDAR BREAKS NATIONAL MONUMENT
In March 2017, Cedar Breaks National Monument was officially designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, a nonprofit that works to combat unnecessary light pollution worldwide. This designation recognizes Cedar Breaks as a night sky sanctuary, the first of its kind in southwest Utah. Such recognition is timely, because places like Cedar Breaks are disappearing rapidly.
“We hope that our designation as an International Dark Sky Park will inspire more people to appreciate the beauty of the night sky and take some simple actions to help protect it.”
STAR PARTIES AT CEDAR BREAKS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Beginning shortly before sunset, Cedar Breaks National Monument rangers begin the party with a night-sky talk. Visitors will have a chance to enjoy a look at the stars through several large telescopes, constellation tours, star stories and mythology. Reservations are not needed. Held Saturday nights Memorial Day – Labor Day weekends.
Losing the Dark
Less than 100 years ago, everyone could look up and see a spectacular starry night sky. Now, millions of children across the globe will never experience the Milky Way. Increased use of artificial light at night is not only impairing our view of the universe, it is adversely affecting our environment, safety, energy consumption and health.
WHAT IS LIGHT POLLUTION?
Light pollution is a side effect of industrial civilization. The fact is that much outdoor lighting used at night is inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded, and, in many cases, unnecessary. This light, and the electricity used to create it, is being wasted by spilling it into the sky, rather than focusing it on to the actual objects and areas that people want illuminated.
The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) estimates that least 30 percent of all outdoor lighting in the U.S. alone is wasted, mostly by lights that aren’t shielded. That adds up to $3.3 billion and the release of 21 million tons of carbon dioxide per year! To offset all that carbon dioxide, we’d have to plant 875 million trees annually.
EFFECTS OF LIGHT POLLUTION
For three billion years, life on Earth existed in a rhythm of light and dark that was created solely by the illumination of the Sun, Moon and stars. Now, artificial lights overpower the darkness and our cities glow at night, disrupting the natural day-night pattern and shifting the delicate balance of our environment. Plants and animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark rhythm to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep and protection from predators. Like most life on Earth, humans adhere to a circadian rhythm, a sleep-wake pattern governed by the day-night cycle. Artificial light at night can disrupt that cycle.
The negative effects of the loss of this inspirational natural resource might seem intangible. But a growing body of evidence links the brightening night sky directly to measurable negative impacts including:
• Increasing energy consumption
• Disrupting the ecosystem and wildlife
• Harming human health
• Effecting crime and safety
Light pollution affects everyone. A growing number of scientists, homeowners, environmental groups and civic leaders are taking action to restore the natural night. Each of us can implement practical solutions to combat light pollution locally, nationally and internationally.
YOU CAN HELP!
The good news is that light pollution, unlike many other forms of pollution, is reversible and each one of us can make a difference! Start by minimizing the light from your home at night:
• Only use lighting when and where it’s needed; if safety is a concern, install motion lights
• Properly shield all outdoor lights
• Keep your blinds drawn to keep light inside
• Become a citizen scientist and helping to measure light pollution
• Learn more at darksky.org. Then spread the word to your family and friends!
Upcoming Astronomical Events
SOLAR ECLIPSE IN SOUTHERN UTAH
AUGUST 21 | 9-1PM | CEDAR CITY’S MAIN STREET PARK | CEDARCITYLIBRARY.ORG
This is your chance to see a phenomenon that won’t occur again until 2023; solar telescopes will be set up to look at the sun before, during, and after the eclipse. There will be games, solar glasses, and even popsicles. Solar glasses will be handed out on a first come first serve basis.
SATURDAYS | 8PM | POINT SUPREME | NPS.GOV/CEBR or (435) 586-9451
Beginning shortly before sunset, Cedar Breaks National Monument rangers begin the party with a night-sky talk. Visitors will have a chance to enjoy a look at the stars through several large telescopes, constellation tours, star stories and mythology. Reservations are not needed. Held Memorial Day – Labor Day.
AUGUST 17 | 5-7PM | CEDAR CITY LIBRARY | CEDARCITYLIBRARY.ORG or (435) 865-4547
Come learn about the stars, specifically, our closest star, the sun! There will be booths and activities featuring astronomy and two planetariums. This event is family friendly, free, and open to everyone. Hosted by the Cedar City Library, Southern Utah Space Foundation, and Ashcroft Observatory!
AUGUST 25 | 6PM | CEDAR NATURE PARK | GOWILDLIFE.ORG or (435) 586-4693
Campfire Concerts in the Canyon showcase live music, a roaring fire, fixings for s’mores and plenty of fun. Stick around after the music and to hear a legendary local tale or two. The Cedar
Canyon Nature Park is located about 1 mile east of Cedar City along Highway 14.
SOUTHWEST ASTRONOMY FESTIVAL
SEPTEMBER 22 + 23 | SOUTHERN UTAH | NPS.GOV/CEBR or (435) 586-9451
A regional celebration of astronomy and dark skies: the festival will consist of events for all ages taking place throughout Southwest Utah; come experience night sky art exhibitions in Cedar City, attend a star party at Cedar Breaks, go on a night hike in Zion, and look at the sun from downtown St. George.
SEPTEMBER 23 | 6PM | PAROWAN GAP | VISITCEDARCITY.COM or (435) 463-3735
The Fall Equinox Observation includes a presentation of the ancient Native American solar calendar, guided interpretive tour, hike and observation of the fall equinox sunset. Be sure to wear
good walking shoes and bring water to drink.