Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

2017 Solar Eclipse FAQ

2017 Solar Eclipse FAQ

What is happening on August 21, 2017

A total solar eclipse is visible across the US for the first time in decades.  The last time a total solar eclipse was visible from the US was 1991, when the total eclipse was visible only in Hawaii.  Before that, it was 1979 when a total eclipse was visible from North Dakota and states to the west.

Will we (at UNI) see a total eclipse?

No, we are not along the path of the Moon's shadow, but we will see about 90% of the Sun covered by the Moon.  To see the total eclipse you need to go further to the south (Missouri).

When will this occur?

The peak amount of coverage at UNI happens at about 1:10 PM, but you may be able to see the Moon starting to block parts of the Sun as early as 11:45 and the Moon will move entirely away from the Sun by about 2:35 PM.

Is a solar eclipse dangerous?

Yes if you do something reckless like staring at the Sun or viewing it with a magnifying device.  YOU WILL DAMAGE YOUR EYES! I

How can I safely view the eclipse?

Use only certified eclipse safe viewers.  These will be available at the UNI event.  You will also be able to view it using telescopes with an appropriate filter.  You can also look at how the eclipse shape will be visible through a small hole or pin-hole.  Look for crescent shapes of the Sun in the shade of a tree where little bits of sunlight peak through.



  • Stare at the Sun, even with the best sunglasses, you will still damage your eyes.
  • View the Sun with binoculars or a telescope that does not have a solar filter.
  • Use the zoom function on a camera to view the Sun


Have other eclipses been observed in Iowa?

Yes, partial eclipses have been seen in Iowa, with the last on visible in 2012.

What if it is cloudy or rainy?

If you can't see the Sun with your eyes, you can't see it with a telescope.  In the event of cloudy or rainy weather, you can see the eclipse as seen by various observers around the US in the Rod Library HUB 287 room.

When will the next eclipse occur after this one?

The next eclipse will occur on July 2, 2019 and will only be visible in the south Pacific and South America.

The next total solar eclipse visible in the US will be April 8, 2024.

Where can I get more information about the eclipse?