North America is having one huge case of fear-of-missing-out syndrome this week. It’s just a week until a total solar eclipse cuts across Wyoming and Nebraska, among other states, and the news is filled with dire warnings about utter gridlock as hundreds of thousands of people prepare to cram into a narrow swath of ethereal darkness.
“We’ve never had anything even close, nothing close to this. Guys that have been here decades can’t remember anything like this,” said Doug McGee, a spokesperson for the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
However, there also will be a lot of us stuck in Denver, since the celestial workings are falling on a Monday. In this post, we’ll discuss what you’ll see here, as well as advice for finding eclipse glasses and a list of local eclipse events.
What to expect and where to be:
“If you’ve never seen any eclipse at all, and you cannot travel there — if you cannot be on the path, might as well stay here and enjoy it,” said Angel Abbud-Madrid, the director of the Center for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines.
In Denver, the moon will start creeping over the sun at about 10:23 a.m. and the event will officially end here at 1:14 p.m.
At the peak, around 11:47 a.m., about 93 percent of the sun will be hidden by the moon — but the effect is going to be subtle.
“There’s not going to be a magic moment,” Abbud-Madrid said. “If it’s not total, you may not even notice. At 93 percent, you may just feel like someone put a filter up there. You might feel it on your skin.”
So, maybe it’s best to think of the eclipse as a few hours of slight strangeness, a time to see the city in a different light.
The best place to watch will be anywhere with a view of the sky, or perhaps at one of the events listed below. There’s no particular reason to watch from a mountaintop or a tall building, Abbud-Madrid said.
As the day passes, you can look for projections of the eclipsed sun in unexpected places. For example, eclipse light filtered through tree leaves sometimes projects the crescent sun pattern onto the sidewalk, Abbud-Madrid said. You could even create the projection by clenching your first so just a sliver of sunlight can sneak through.
If you have proper viewing equipment, to be discussed below, you also can look at the eclipse itself.
Where to find eclipse glasses in Denver:
If you want to actually look at the sun, you’ll need eclipse glasses. Unfortunately, supplies are running short and retailers are price-gouging on Amazon — think $120 for a ten-pack of cardboard glasses. Reports also are surfacing of counterfeit glasses. (Here’s how to test yours.)
The Denver Public Library briefly had free glasses in stock. As of Monday morning, though, there were none available (and no word of any more coming) at the central branch, but you might try your own branch.
Grease Monkey locations around the metro also were giving away glasses. Arvada was out by Monday morning, while East Colfax reported it was low on stock. There are several dozen others to try.
Arapahoe County libraries will release glasses to the public for free on Saturday morning. Staff expect the supply to be exhausted within minutes.
Also, you could head out to one of the events listed below, many of which will have equipment.
Eclipse events around Denver:
Friday, Aug. 18: Dave Aguilera of CBS Denver will give a presentation on the eclipse, followed by activities and crafts, at Aurora Public Libraries’ central branch. The event starts at 11 a.m. Glasses will be available. 14949 E. Alameda Pkwy., Aurora, CO
Monday, Aug. 21:
In Denver: Head to the commons of Regis University’s flagship campus in northwestern Denver on the morning of the eclipse. Parking is free, and so is a limited supply of eclipse glasses. 3333 Regis Blvd., Denver, CO
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will have solar scopes and a limited supply of eclipse glasses available starting at 9 a.m. on Boettcher Plaza. 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO
You also could do yoga at the Urban Sanctuary Courtyard from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $20. Glasses are to be provided. 2745 Welton St., Denver, CO
In Boulder: There will be a public gathering on the fifth-floor terrace of the University Memorial Center from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 1669 Euclid Ave., Boulder, CO
Astronomers will set up several solar telescopes on the lawn outside Fiske Planetarium. Space will be very limited. 2414 Regent Dr., Boulder, CO
The year 2045: A total solar eclipse is expected to pass just south of Denver in just 28 short years.
What we’re missing:
If you were to go to the eclipse’s path of totality, things would be a bit more dramatic.
“The moment it becomes total, it pretty much becomes twilight here,” Abbud-Madrid said. “You can start seeing now the night sky, Venus up there. You will feel the temperature dropping a few degrees. You may feel even the wind calming down. If you’re in a very lonely place, you might start hearing the crickets start chirping. Birds go to roost.”
And with the sun obscured, people will remove their glasses and see the corona flaring out from the sides of the shadowed sun.
“It’s a very, very wispy, light,” he said. “A low-density part of the sun that you don’t see because your’e overwhelmed with the light of the sun every day.”
Don’t worry, though. We’ll have our own fun right here.