When and how to watch the solar eclipse in Minnesota, where it will be about 75 percent visible to spectators

Published 3:27 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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By Cathy Wurzer and Gracie Stockton, Minnesota Public Radio News

On Monday, the world will experience its first total solar eclipse in nearly seven years.

Minnesota won’t be in the path of totality, but an eclipse in any form is still “the most unearthly experience you can have on the earth,” according to longtime University of Wisconsin-La Crosse planetarium director Bob Allen. So where and when in Minnesota should you stop and look skyward to witness the cosmic event?

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Most of Minnesota will see a 75 percent partial eclipse, according to the Bell Museum. Southeastern Minnesota will see an 80 percent partial eclipse or more, Allen said. It will start around 1 p.m., peak around 2 p.m. and end by 3:10 to 3:15 p.m. Find the exact timing of the eclipse in your area on eclipse2024.org.

In his five decades of studying astronomy, Allen has chased three total eclipses. He went to western Nebraska in 2017, Hawaii in 1991 and Manitoba, Canada, in 1979. He’s headed to Arkansas on Wednesday, hoping to witness a fourth.

“Partials are interesting,” he said. “It’s like getting in an airplane with a parachute and one person jumping out and the other staying in the plane and saying ‘I’m not gonna do it.’ It’s a different thrill.”

Partial solar eclipses like we will see in Minnesota occur when the moon passes between the sun and earth, but the three aren’t perfectly aligned, according to NASA. It creates a crescent shape with the sun partly covered. These eclipses turn day to dusk and can even trigger streetlights to turn on, Allen said.

Watch parties

  • The Bell Museum in St. Paul is hosting a watch party from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will also livestream the eclipse and have glasses for purchase, starting at $3 per pair.
  • The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul is offering a package with admission and glasses.
  • Bethel University has a viewing event from 12:45 to 3:15 p.m. on the lawn next to Benson Great Hall in St. Paul.
  • Sibley State Park in Willmar will have experts on hand and a kids craft available from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Wild River State Park in Center City will have a safe telescope and glasses from 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Minneopa State Park in Mankato will have naturalists available to answer questions and an all-ages craft from 12:30 to 3 p.m.
  • Winona State University is hosting a free, public viewing event from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the lawn with eclipse glasses, special solar telescopes and pinhole projectors available. The school is also livestreaming the eclipse in the Science Lab Center’s atrium.

Protect your peepers — and avoid scams

  • Sunglasses aren’t the solution. You need special eclipse glasses to see safely and avoid retina damage.
  • Pop on your eclipse glasses while looking away from the sun and only turn your head when they’re properly positioned to avoid eye damage.
  • Be wary of counterfeit and fake glasses. Test the glasses beforehand. You shouldn’t be able to see anything indoors except for very bright lights, which will only appear faintly. Outdoors on a sunny day, you should only be able to see a pale reflection of the sun on a shiny surface.
  • No matter how good your glasses are, the AAS recommends looking at the sun for just 2 to 3 seconds at a time every 5 minutes — and never look through binoculars, telescopes or camera lenses while wearing eclipse glasses.