Bassett Planetarium

Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017 (Monday) 1:30 - 4:00PM - Best between 2:40 - 2:45PM

Solar Eclipse

The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse will be the first to cross a large portion of the United States in almost 100 years. Solar eclipses occur when the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth, blocking the light of the Sun and casting a shadow on the Earth. The Moon looks almost exactly the same size as the Sun in the sky. This similarity is coincidental! The Sun is 400 times wider than the Moon but it is also 400 times further away, so the two cover the same sized area from our point of view on Earth.

What to expect between 2:40PM and 2:45PM.  

  • The path of totality will be south of Amherst, in Charleston South Carolina where the weather will change for a few minutes, and it will become dark, cool and breezy.
  • In Amherst we will observe ~65% totality, still very cool…but the sun will be very bright, 35% sunlight, quite blinding. NEVER - NEVER look direclty at the sun without special protection.
  • You will observe oddly shaped shadows – notice tree leaves or your hand forming shadows on the ground.
  • WITH SPECIAL GLASSES – you can observe the sun safely. - 

Solar Eclipse

What is happening locally....

You may find Amherst College staff outside looking in the direction of the sun with special glasses at around 2:40PM


Tom Whitney of the Astronomy Association will be hosting an observation session at the UMASS Sunwheel between 1:30PM - 4PM - Tom will have a couple of telescopes equipped with special solar lenses.  




For more than fifty years, Bassett Planetarium, located in Morgan Hall, has provided programs about the night sky to Amherst and Five College classes, and to regional community organizations and school groups.

Bassett Planetarium is open September-June, free of charge, to educational groups of 10 or more by appointment only. Please note that the building is not wheelchair accessible, nor are there adequate restrooms for groups.

Related Links