Our Guide: 2017 Partial Solar Eclipse in Hawai‘i

When to wake up, where to look, where to find viewing glasses and how to engage your child for this show in the sky.

Photo: NASA

You may have heard the buzz. The first total solar eclipse over the mainland U.S. in 38 years is Monday. The so-called “Great American Eclipse” will only be visible over the continental United States and has driven motel rates up into the thousands of dollars in the states in the path of the astronomical event.

In Hawai‘i, we will see a partial solar eclipse, where the moon covers just a part of the sun and its corona. It will be the last opportunity for us until 2024 (2106 if you’re waiting for a total eclipse in the islands) and the timing of it is just right, so your kids can sneak a glimpse of it before heading to school.

Here are the details and our tips for getting the most out of this celestial event.

  1. Wake up a little early. About a third of the sun will be blocked by the moon as it rises at 6:15 a.m. The most dramatic coverage will be around 6:45 a.m., then the eclipse will be over by 7:25 a.m.
  2. Find a flat horizon to the east for the best view. Mountains, tall buildings and anything else that can get in the way will block the sun, since it may be low on the horizon. The Bishop Museum won’t be having a viewing party because the hills of Kalihi will likely obscure the view.
  3. Don’t look directly at the sun. Safe viewing glasses have sold out at Bishop Museum’s store. We did find eclipse glasses, in limited supply, right inside the entrance of Lowes in Iwilei. (We called the Waipi‘o location, but there are none there.) Otherwise, unless you already have a pair, you will need to create a pinhole viewer to protect your eyes. Starnetlibraries.org has three DIY versions you can whip up this weekend from items you probably already have at home. Sunglasses, welding glasses, mirrors do not provide adequate protection.
  4. Go online. If you can’t drag the kids out of bed that early, or, to see the total eclipse, there will be multiple opportunities to view it online. NASA starts its coverage at 6 a.m. Hawai‘i Standard Time with a preview show from Charleston, S.C.—one of the sites where the total eclipse will be visible. Then NASA will broadcast the phenomenon live as the moon moves across the mainland. Bishop Museum says the eclipse will hit the Oregon coast at 7:16 a.m. our time; Nashville, Tenn. at 8:27 a.m. HST; and Charleston, S.C. at 8:47 a.m. HST. NASA will also be broadcasting the coverage through its apps for iPhone, Android, Amazon Fire and Apple TV.
  5. Download the National Park Service’s workbook. The NPS has created a free junior ranger workbook just for the event. The free “Eclipse Explorer” explains how eclipses occur, teaches kids (and parents!) related terms including “syzygy” and “corona”, and includes interactive lessons about shadows during an eclipse. Kids can complete it and send it in for a limited-edition badge or sticker, while supplies last. Download it from the nps.gov website.
  6. Want to geek out completely? NASAʻs special eclipse 2017 website has everything from a crash course on eclipses to myths, history and activities for every grade level.

Read more about the Aug. 21 solar eclipse in Hawai‘i on the Bishop Museum’s website.