So, I heard there is an eclipse in October...
On Saturday, October 14th, 2023, an annular eclipse will pass over seven states and 30 national park units. Almost all of southern Utah will be in the path, including Capitol Reef and neighboring public lands.
What is an Annular Eclipse?
Annular solar eclipses and total solar eclipses both occur when the moon passes between the sun and Earth. This blocks the sun for a few minutes by casting the moon's shadow upon a small part of Earth. The difference between the two is in the elliptical orbit of the moon. On October 14th, the moon will be too far away from the Earth to completely block the sun. Instead of darkness, the edges of the sun will poke around the moon, creating a "Ring of Fire." The sun's power will still be intense enough to cause serious eye damage, thus eclipse rated eye protection is a must for viewing the eclipse safely.
What to Expect as You Plan:
At Capitol Reef National Park, a partial eclipse will begin around 9:10 am MDT as the moon begins to cross the sun's face. As the partial eclipse increases, the sun will look like a giant cookie with a bite taken out of it. The annularity (maximum eclipse or "Ring of Fire") begins at 10:27 am MDT and will go through 10:32 am MDT.
9:10am MDT: Partial solar eclipse begins
Capitol Reef is among many locations to view this eclipse and many events are taking place in the area.
What kind of experience would you like?
Do you like ranger programs? A hike into the wilderness with a close group of friends and loved ones? Access to the roads and visitor center?
Camping will be very limited in Capitol Reef National Park during this event due to high demand. Reservations for the Fruita Campground are required and can be made up to six months in advance on recreation.gov. Primitive camping at Cedar Mesa or Cathedral Valley are free and first-come, first-served, however it is limited to 5 and 6 sites per campground respectively. Car camping and dispersed camping outside of designated camp sites is prohibited within the boundaries of Capitol Reef National Park. Visitors wishing to backcountry camp may obtain a free permit at the visitor center.
Safe eclipse viewing:Unlike a total solar eclipse, it is never safe to look directly at the sun without eclipse rated eye protection at any time during an annular eclipse. As an annular eclipse does not fully block out the sun, the light emitting off of the sun will still be intense enough to cause permanent eye damage after only a few seconds of unprotected viewing.
It is safe to view the eclipse with specially designed solar filters, such as "eclipse glasses." "Eclipse glasses" that are over 3 years old, have scratches, or holes in them should not be used. Homemade filters and ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. Visit the eclipse safety page to find answers to safely viewing solar eclipses.
I can't make it to the park! What now?Not to worry! Most of southern Utah is in the path of the annular eclipse. Bryce Canyon, Glen Canyon, Grand Staircase Escalante, Bears Ears, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, and Rainbow Bridge will all experience the full eclipse.
Can't make it to Utah? The path of the annular eclipse will travel over a total of 30 National Park sites and portions of: Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. It will also be visible in parts of Mexico, Central America, and South America. All of the continental United States will be able to see even a slight partial eclipse, with a greater percentage covered as you get closer to the path of annularity.
There will be a total eclipse on April 8, 2024! This eclipse will pass over 27 park units in 11 states from Texas to Maine.
NASA has created maps showing the upcoming eclipses and the path each will take across the United States.
Did you know?
Total solar eclipses will stop happening and only annular eclipses will occur in the future. This is due to the moon slowly orbiting farther and farther away from Earth at a rate of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) per year. At that rate, in 1.2 billion years the moon will no longer be able to completely block the sun and only annular eclipses will be possible.
Learn more about eclipses on the NPS page.
Last updated: September 2, 2023