Solar eclipse enthusiasm sweeps DC region as rare celestial event nears

The highly anticipated "Great North American Eclipse" is right around the corner, and preparations are underway across the region to ensure a safe and memorable viewing experience.

Excitement is palpable as residents gear up for the rare celestial event, set to unfold on April 8. Current forecasts suggest favorable conditions for skygazers hoping to catch a glimpse of the partial eclipse.


2024 solar eclipse: What will it look like over DC and how long will it last?

A historic solar eclipse will be visible in the U.S. in just a few days and many are excited to glimpse the rare event.

The Exploring the Planets Gallery at the National Air and Space Museum served as an ideal backdrop for eclipse enthusiasts, where anticipation for the upcoming phenomenon was evident.

"I'm just excited to witness something so unique," said Hope Phipps, a visitor from Kentucky, as she collected specially-made blackout glasses distributed by the museum.

What time will you see the solar eclipse over the D.C. region?

In the immediate D.C. area, the eclipse is expected to cover 87 percent of the sun, with optimal viewing between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Monday. 

READ MORE: How to get the best view of the solar eclipse

READ MORE: What schools are planning for the eclipse

READ MORE: Pets and the solar eclipse: What to know

READ MORE: Solar eclipse 2024: 5 cities in path of totality just a drive away from DC

Mariel O'Brien, an astronomy educator with the Smithsonian Institution, emphasized the significance of the event, noting that such occurrences are rare and should be cherished.

"There's a misconception about eclipses that they're rare," O'Brien told FOX 5. "They actually occur like 2.3 times a year. However, outside your own backyard anyone can expect to see a solar eclipse once every 375 years because the moon's shadow is so small, so this is definitely a special event for us."

Meanwhile, residents residing in the path of totality, such as William and Bradley Barto from Niagara Falls, New York, are making preparations to fully experience the eclipse.

"I will be working from home that day," William Barto said. "They even gave the kids the day off from school."


Solar eclipse 2024: DC-area viewing parties, festivals

While Washington, D.C. is not in the path of the total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, the area will see about 87% lunar coverage. Here are some of the watch parties and educational events in the area.

For those planning to document the event, O'Brien cautioned against getting too caught up in capturing it on camera, urging observers to immerse themselves fully in the multisensory experience.

As anticipation builds, individuals across the region are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to witness this extraordinary astronomical event firsthand.

To celebrate the occasion, the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum will host a solar eclipse festival on Monday, April 8. 

For more details and other ways to watch the eclipse click here