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Solar eclipse 2017: What we’ll see in San Francisco (updated)

The shade of it all

The Moon covering the Sun in a partial eclipse. Photo by Shutterstock

Update: As of Monday morning, low fog has blanketed San Francisco and parts of the Bay Area. If you want to see the solar eclipse, traveling east will be your best bet. Otherwise, you can watch it via livestream.

On Monday, August 21, the nation will see a rare astronomical event: a total eclipse of the sun, caused when the moon moves directly between the sun and the earth.

While the eclipse is expected to be visible across most of the U.S., the part of the country that will experience its totality—i.e., when the moon completely blocks the sun—is far more limited.

The nearest place to see the total eclipse is in Oregon. In preparation, the state is expecting millions of visitors within its borders around that time. (Only 14 states will see the corona, the eclipse in its totality.) But for those who can’t head up to Oregon at 10 a.m. on a Monday morning, will the eclipse still be worth watching in San Francisco?


According to Vox, the path of the totality is only about 70 miles wide, and will be best viewed in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and the Southeast. (Vox also has a handy interactive tool that tells you how much of the eclipse you’ll be able to see in your zip code.)

Although the Bay Area isn’t in the total eclipse region, the region will see 75 percent to 76 percent coverage.

The eclipse should begin in San Francisco around 9:05 a.m., and peak at roughly 10:22.

One potential snafu for watching in San Francisco: the weather. The city is known for its foggy days, and this summer has been a big one for Karl. Heading north of Sausalito or anywhere in the East Bay could mean more reliable, clear weather.

 An amateur astronomer from Nehru Science Centre examing his telescope during the solar eclipse at Gilbert Hill. The eclipse was not seen in the city due to fog and cloud cover.
People watching a 2009 solar eclipse in Mumbai, India.
Photo by Vijayanand Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

As for where you can see the eclipse, there will be many places in the Bay Area to witness the shadiness.

Pay careful attention to the solar eclipse glasses you purchase, especially online. Not all companies hawking viewers can be trusted.

“To properly view the Sun lead up to and following the eclipse, you need solar filter glasses that are in good condition and meet the standards set by the International Organization for Standardization,” reports The Verge. (You could even build your own eclipse viewer.)

For those who plan on venturing north to Oregon and into the path of totality, partial eclipse will start around 9:06 a.m., peaking at around 10:15 a.m.

Photo by Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures

According to Curbed Seattle, “Those within 10 to 20 miles of the tip of the lunar shadow will experience what feels like a brief nightfall.”

The next solar eclipse in the United States won’t happen until April 28, 2024, when it will travel between Texas and Maine.

Update: The solar eclipse will have an affect on our electricity grids, shutting off a lot of electricity production as it moves across our country’s solar arrays.

Forbes reports: “The shadow from the moon will be 70 miles wide as it races across the United States at well over 1,000 miles per hour, from Portland, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. On the way, it will cut solar power production by about 9,000 MW (see figure below), about as much electricity as produced by fifteen coal fired power plants.”

We’ll update this post as more information becomes available leading up to the eclipse.

Update: Here are 8 places to catch the celestial event if you are in the East Bay. Also, because it bears repeating, you need to use the solar-eclipse-approved filters. Staring at the sun without them will cause serious retina damage.

What will San Francisco’s weather be like? Possible foggy on the morning of the eclipse. Here’s what to look out for.