PacSci Perspectives


Nearly 40 Years Later, Pacific Science Center Serves As “Eclipse Central” Once Again

by | Jul 31, 2017

Solar Eclipse

While we eagerly prepare for the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, we fondly remember the previous one on February 26, 1979. Pacific Science Center served as “Eclipse Central,” and was the primary resource for eclipse information for local media, educators and the public during the event in 1979. That day, guests received “Sun Peeps,” an early version of the current solar viewing glasses that are now commercially available.

While activities were happening on the ground, we also had a presence in the sky. In anticipation of a cloudy February, we chartered three Alaska Airlines flights to fly above the clouds along the path of totality in order to guarantee views of the eclipse. Passengers switched seats every 20 seconds so all six in each row would see the eclipse. Alaska Airlines will be doing something similar this year.

This August, you will be able to have an extensive experience during the total solar eclipse. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m., as the eclipse starts at 9:08 a.m., with its maximum at 10:30 a.m. and conclusion at 11:38 a.m. View the eclipse through solar telescopes and safe viewing glasses, as well as watch a live-stream of the eclipse from Oregon. Try our hands-on demonstrations and engage with knowledgeable staff on how and why eclipses happen.

In addition to our eclipse-day activities, you can learn more in preparation for the eclipse. Nationally recognized astronomy educator Dennis Schatz will be hosting “Total Solar Eclipse 101,” as part of our Science in the City lecture series, on August 1. Our next Curiosity Days weekend focuses on eclipse education on August 12 and 13, where staff will be answering any and all questions regarding eclipses, and providing demonstrations and activities.

For those who want to be equipped with the ultimate tools for viewing the eclipse, Pacific Science Center is offering Eclipse Kits; each containing a copy of When the Sun Goes Dark, an illustrated book by Dennis Schatz, two pairs of customized solar eclipse viewing glasses, one UV-activated wristband, and a commemorative pinhole viewer to safely view the eclipse. Eclipse Kits are available with any donation of $100 and with your support we’ll send an Eclipse Kit to one of our Family Access Members free of charge.


For more information on eclipse activities at Pacific Science Center, visit www.pacificsciencecenter/eclipse.