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Maryland Gets Ready for 2017 Solar Eclipse on August 21

State to Experience 80 Percent Coverage of the Sun; Public Lands Offer Viewing Opportunities

Map of Total Solar Eclipse over

Map Courtesy NASA

One of the most anticipated celestial events of our time happens Aug. 21 when the moon passes between the earth and sun, creating a total eclipse visible through a large swath of the United States. Although Maryland is not in the path of totality, skies will darken that afternoon and there will be plenty of opportunity to experience a true wonder of the natural world.

Many people from around the globe are traveling to various points along the path of the moon’s shadow, which will run from Oregon to South Carolina, to see the total eclipse. Maryland will experience a partial eclipse that will obscure about 80 percent of sun throughout the state at peak.

The exact times for this eclipse may vary within a few minutes depending on location, according to Maryland Geological Survey Director Richard Ortt. The eclipse will occur over Maryland at these times:

Western Maryland (Garrett County):

– First Contact: 1:12 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:38 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 3:57 p.m.

Central Maryland (Annapolis, Baltimore):

– First Contact: 1:18 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:43 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 4:02 p.m.

Coastal Maryland (Assateague, Ocean City):

– First Contact: 1:22 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:47 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 4:05 p.m.

The only safe way to look directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, do not provide adequate protection. Viewers must be sure the glasses they use are CE and ISO certified for direct sun viewing.

“For anyone who wishes to view the eclipse, safety precautions must be taken to prevent the sun’s harmful rays from causing severe eye damage,” Ortt said.

Observations of the eclipse’s effects aren’t limited to the sky. Maryland’s coastal areas and the bay will experience a higher-than-normal “perigian spring tide,” when the gravitational pull of both the moon and sun are at their strongest due to their alignment with earth.

Also, biologists have noted during a total or partial solar eclipse, fish react to both the falling air temperatures and decrease of light. Fooled into thinking the sun has set, some species have been observed heading to deeper water. For the duration of the eclipse, nocturnal fish may become more active while daytime fish become less active. Similar impact may be found on other wildlife as well.

“Anyone who plans spending the eclipse on the water may have a rare opportunity to view this impact on aquatic species,” said Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer.

Maryland’s public lands provide some ideal viewing locations. The Maryland Park Service is offering various events around the state, including:

Assateague State Park will host an exhibit at the Nature Nook to include information and viewing glasses for lending use.

The Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake State Park will be monitoring temperature, bird song and species shifting. The center will also have viewing glasses on hand.

New Germany State Park will have glasses on handand host a guided discussion.

North Point State Park offers visitors a short hike through the Black Marsh Wildlands and stunning views of the eclipse on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Preregistration is required by emailing

Rocky Gap State Park offers a free, family-friendly walk along the Lakeside Loop Trail, offering scenic views of Lake Habeeb during the eclipse. The 45-minute hike begins at 2 p.m. Visitors should arrive early to check in at the Camp Office and then meet at the Nature Center. Viewing glasses will be provided while supplies last.

– Tuckahoe State Park will hold a free solar eclipse party at the ballfield in the Cherry Lane Campground area from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event will include themed crafts, music, snacks and a limited supply of viewing glasses.

“We’re expecting a lot of people to enjoy our beautiful public lands, guided by expert staff, as ideal places to experience the eclipse,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina.

Events are weather-dependent and capacity is limited in some parks, so visitors should check with their park of choice before leaving home.