Grand Canyon National Park: A Great Place to View the Annular Eclipse

On the South Rim, rangers, amateur astronomers and NASA scientists will assist visitors with viewing of the annular eclipse and the night sky afterward.

Photo courtesy of Nancy K Varga

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News Release Date: April 25, 2012

Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958

Grand Canyon, Ariz. - On Sunday, May 20, 2012, visitors to both rims of Grand Canyon National Park will be able to view a rare annular eclipse of the sun. The western two-thirds of the country and the southern two-thirds of Arizona will see at least a partial eclipse prior to sunset, but visitors to Grand Canyon National Park will see the moon pass fully in front of the sun, leaving only a ring (or "annula") of sun visible around it. Ranger-assisted opportunities to view the eclipse will be provided on both rims; and on the South Rim, NASA scientists and amateur astronomers will share their telescopes for views of the eclipse and of the night sky afterwards.  

Approximate Timing of the eclipse (local MST):  

5:28 p.m. - partial eclipse begins
6:34 p.m. - annular eclipse begins
6:39 p.m. - annular eclipse ends
7:32 p.m. - sun sets while still partially eclipsed 

Prior to the Eclipse (South Rim):

At the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, NASA scientists will offer short special programs periodically throughout the morning and afternoon. They will also offer 3 longer presentations about eclipses and recent discoveries about the moon and sun. Check posted signs for times. Seating is limited. For the longer presentation, free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8 a.m. on May 20 at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. 

During the eclipse: ·       

North Rim: Check posted signs for locations of ranger-assisted viewing of the eclipse. Rangers may project images of the sun, and will have a limited number of "eclipse glasses" to share for direct viewing. ·       

South Rim: Rangers, amateur astronomers and NASA scientists will collaborate to offer telescope views of the eclipsed sun, along with projected images and a limited number of "eclipse glasses" to share. The largest concentration of telescopes will be behind (west of) the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, but rangers and telescopes will also be located at Lipan Point, at the benches just west of the Desert View Watchtower, and on the deck of the Watchtower itself (brief looks only at the Watchtower as capacity is limited). Check posted signs for additional locations and information.       

Either Rim: You can also watch the eclipse unfold on your own from any good sunset point; but remember NEVER LOOK DIRECLY AT THE SUN WITH YOUR NAKED EYE OR THROUGH SUNGLASSES, CAMERA VIEWFINDER, OR ANY FORM OF UNFILTERED MAGNIFICATION!   

o For SAFE direct viewing, consider buying eclipse glasses in advance of your visit. Solar viewing cards will also be sold for $1.00 in all park bookstores while supplies last. The same cards or glasses can be used again to see the transit of Venus across the sun on Tuesday, June 5. The transit will be visible from anywhere in North America.

o Indirect viewing also works well. Use binoculars, a spotting scope, or a simple "pinhole camera" to project an image of the sun onto a piece of paper. For more information on indirect viewing methods, visit the park's web site at

After the eclipse (South Rim):

After dark, there will be a one-night, public "star party" behind (west of) the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. NASA scientists and amateur astronomers will share their telescopes for views of stars and star clusters, planets and distant galaxies. The star party begins after dark and runs until at least 11 p.m., but best viewing conditions are after 9 p.m. Parking is available in lots 1-4, and the Village Route Shuttle runs until 10 p.m.

Things to bring:

For eclipse viewing, bring binoculars if you have them (for INDIRECT viewing only) and perhaps buy eclipse glasses, a solar viewing card, or #14 welder's glass in advance. For the star party on the South Rim, bring a flashlight to find your way and a jacket since temperatures drop quickly after dark.

Friday and Saturday events (South Rim): 

Consider spending the entire weekend on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Activities are planned to celebrate Endangered Species Day - Friday, May 18, and Celebrate Wildlife Day - Saturday, May 19. For more information, visit the park's web site at 

For more information about viewing the annular eclipse at Grand Canyon National Park, please visit; or contact Park Ranger Marker Marshall (South Rim) at 928-638-7830 or, or Supervisory Park Ranger Robin Tellis (North Rim) at 928-638-7739 or 


Last updated: February 24, 2015

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